There are certain documents that are filed to process any divorce in Texas. Among these, are the petition for divorce, the waiver of service and the final decree of divorce. All of these documents are public documents. This means that anyone can go to the District Court’s computer and look up the name and review the documents that were filed. As of 2018 in Bexar County, these documents are not available by any means other than to order them directly from the District Clerk or to go in person and look them up for purposes of printing them.
That these documents are public can understandably be upsetting to people that are getting divorced. Divorce documents by their nature have information that many people just plain prefer to keep private such as detailed listings of debts and assets, or fault in the break up of the marriage.
Is There a Way to Keep Divorce Documents Private in Texas?
There is no way to keep decrees, petitions or motions private. However, there is a way to keep the asset and liability listings and terms of the decree out of public view. Your lawyer would draft what is called an “Agreement Incident to Divorce.”
This is just a fancy phraze for the word “contract” and is a way that you can make sure that you still list your assets and debts but such that you do not have to publically file the information.
Your Attorney will still need to draft a decree of divorce. The decree of divorce will state that the parties, in order to divide the marital estate, have executed an Agreement Incident to Divorce. The decree will reference the document, but the document will not be filed.
The Court will also still need to approve of the document and ensure it provides a just and right division of the marital estate.
This is about as far as a person can go in Texas to keep their terms of divorce underwraps.
Your lawyer will charge you for drafting this, as it will entail additional time for the draftsmen and additional execution of originals. Since the original will not be filed with the court, retention of the original document for all parties is of import.
What Part of the Texas Family Code Enables Documents to Be Private.
Section 7.006 of the Texas Family Code:
(a) To promote amicable settlement of disputes in a suit for divorce or annulment, the spouses may enter into a written agreement concerning the division of the property and the liabilities of the spouses and maintenance of either spouse. The agreement may be revised or repudiated before rendition of the divorce or annulment unless the agreement is binding under another rule of law.
(b) If the court finds that the terms of the written agreement in a divorce or annulment are just and right, those terms are binding on the court. If the court approves the agreement, the court may set forth the agreement in full or incorporate the agreement by reference in the final decree.
(c) If the court finds that the terms of the written agreement in a divorce or annulment are not just and right, the court may request the spouses to submit a revised agreement or may set the case for a contested hearing.
Megan Victoria Cook
Texas Divorce Lawyer
I would be honored to talk to you about your divorce needs in Texas. My telephone consultations are free. Call today (210) 271-2800. I serve families throughout Texas.