If you are a Texas resident debating divorce or have already been served with corresponding papers, one of the best places to begin is to collect the necessary documentation. Remember to keep this paperwork in a secure place, which might include a safe. If you have encountered marriage issues that cause you to be afraid of domestic violence, keeping documents in a secure and confidential location often becomes an even more critical issue.
To help you in the process of preparing the necessary documents for your divorce, this article reviews what types of paperwork you will likely need to file for divorce in Texas. Whether these filings occur with the initial divorce petition, during responses to interrogatories, or for trial, it helps to anticipate the following categories of important paperwork.
# 1 – State-Issued Identification
One of the best places to begin preparing for divorce is to make sure that you have corresponding state-issued identification. This might include a Texas (or any other state) driver’s license, Social Security card, and/or birth certificate.
This information is vital if you plan on submitting a divorce complaint or dissolution documents. If you have any children with your partner, it’s important to have these documents on hand too.
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# 2 – Income-Related Documents
Documents addressing your income as well as the income of your spouse are vital to divorce. In most situations, a court must analyze your financial and employment status before weighing critical things like alimony, child support, and the division of marital assets.
Some of the types of income-related documents that you will likely need to prepare for the divorce process include:
- Payment documents for you and your spouse. Paychecks from all employment sources from at least the last few years will likely be necessary to provide. If you work for yourself, you should make sure to obtain your income tax returns as well as any tax documents associated with your business from the last three years. You should also make sure to submit any paychecks for you and your spouse.
- Business expense documents. These documents address any costs that you or your spouse ended up facing if you are self-employed. This category might include check and payment receipts, financial documents, profit and loss documents, and check registers. You should remember to include these documents even if there is only a partial business interest.
- Tax return copies. You should anticipate having to provide copies of both your and your spouse’s state and federal tax returns over the last few years. If either of your services is provided in exchange for cash, you should also plan on providing copies of check ledges that show any costs paid during the marriage. If you or your soon-to-be former spouse receive income as a result of bonuses or commissions, it’s important to have documentation about this on hand too.
- Financial statements. If you or your soon-to-be former spouse provided any documents establishing your net worth for loans, you should be prepared to provide this documentation too.
- Stock options. You should remember to include any paperwork that you or your soon-to-be former spouse have due to a position of employment.
# 3 – Documents Associated with Real Estate in Texas
Real estate is an important asset that must be taken into consideration during a divorce. Any real estate acquired during a marriage will subsequently be divided among spouses. Real estate that is owned separately could end up playing a role if marital funds were used to acquire the property or to perform maintenance on the real estate.
Some of the important real estate-associated documentation that you will likely need to provide during a divorce include:
- All documents related to the refinancing of the real estate
- Any existing tax assessor’s statements on any involved property
- Any paperwork related to the initial purchase of the property
- Your existing mortgage statements for any jointly owned properties
# 4 – Documents Connected to Joint Financial Accounts
To properly address all applicable matters during a divorce, courts require necessary documentation on all financial accounts. This includes both joint and separate accounts. Both parties in a divorce must fully disclose details about their assets. Any financial accounts that were either opened or contributed to during the marriage can end up being classified as marital property and as a result, must be appropriately assessed.
Some joint financial account documentation paperwork that you will likely need to provide during a divorce include:
- Any or all bank documentation over the last few years
- Any or all bank documentation over the last few years from any accounts you held individually or jointly
- Savings accounts and certificates either held individually or jointly between spouses
- Statements from investment accounts held individually or jointly
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# 5 – Documents Connected to Life Insurance in Texas
In some situations, life insurance is viewed as marital property. Other times, life insurance is viewed as a type of spousal support. The value of life insurance is divided during divorce or courts sometimes request beneficiary changes to provide assets for child support.
Some of the statements concerning life insurance that you should be prepared to provide during a divorce include any paperwork suggesting either a balance or loan against existing policies.
# 6 – Documents Concerning Marital Debts
Much like the presentation of financial assets, debt accumulation must be appropriately documented. Any debts entered into during a marriage must be disclosed as part of a person’s financial disclosure. Texas courts assess what constitutes marital debts and then divide these amounts as part of the divorce.
Some of the primary documents that you will need to prepare in this area include:
- A document describing your monthly budgets, which will prove critical if a court requests documentation addressing child and spousal support
- A list of debts, which will often include medical bills, credit cards, and any loans taken out in your name, your spouse’s name, or both of your names during the marriage
- Online account statements, which might be connected to Venmo, Paypal, or Zelle
# 7 – Documents Associated with Pension Funds
All retirement assets must be disclosed. The court must then decide how these assets will be divided among spouses. Any contributions made toward retirement accounts during a marriage are viewed as marital property. Any subsequent benefits could be viewed as a spousal benefit as well.
# 8 – Paperwork Detailing Motor Vehicle Ownership
Vehicles are a marital asset that is subjected to court-controlled divisions. Parties during a divorce must make sure to appropriately disclose details about any motor vehicles owned. Some important paperwork about motor vehicles that you will need to provide during a divorce include:
- Registration or title details of any vehicles that you or your soon-to-be former spouse owned either individually or jointly. These vehicles might include not just motor vehicles but also ATVs, farm equipment, boats, snowmobiles, and other vehicles.
- Any documents establishing the current outstanding debt on the vehicles.
# 9 – Estate Planning Documents
Estate plans address many important aspects of a person’s life including medical decisions and how assets should be handled after that person passes away. Some of the important estate planning documents that you should prepare in advance of your Texas divorce include:
- Advance healthcare directives and durable power of attorney documents
- Documents that describe major gifts and other inheritance issues for both spouses
- Health and life insurance policies for both you as well as your spouse
- Living trusts for both spouses
- Powers of attorney for both spouses
- Wills and Last Testament for you as well as your spouse
# 10 – Evidence Related to the Defense or Assertion of Claims
You are not required by Texas law to establish fault during your divorce, but it often proves helpful to establish fault or defend against claims if you can do so. If either you or your soon-to-be former spouse is seeking a fault-based divorce, it is critical to collect appropriate evidence that you can either use to assert claims or defend against your spouse’s claims.
How to Approach Documents In Your Divorce
While this might seem like a lot of paperwork to prepare for your divorce, it helps to remember some helpful advice during this stressful time:
- You’re in control. Obtaining the appropriate paperwork for your divorce can be a challenge in itself. Being aware of what you need ahead of time lets you gather what you can during this stressful experience. Remember, while divorce is difficult, you are ultimately the one in control.
- Having organized paperwork helps in a wide range of ways. You must provide a detailed and organized collection of important divorce files to your lawyer, which will then help guide both of you through the following stages of divorce. Because the divorce process can be challenging, any steps that you can take to keep organized with paperwork will greatly help the experience. Having adequately prepared files will also help you feel in control of the process. Additionally, if your case proceeds to divorce, the more organized your files are, the more supporting evidence you will have concerning your case. Keeping files organized also helps to avoid critical documents going missing.
Speak with an Experienced Texas Divorce Attorney
Besides paperwork, if you are debating divorce, one of the other wise things to do is to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who has helped other people navigate this process. We understand what it takes to successfully proceed through divorce. Contact the Aberdeen Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.
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