Divorce Documents Become Part of the Public Record

Texas will give you a no-fault divorce based on an allegation that the relationship between you and your spouse has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.  Nobody really knows what any of that means, and of course everybody knows there are far more serious problems underlying the mysterious discord or conflict of personalities.  It's pretty normal to think it would be right to put in black and white in your petition for divorce the real reason you want a divorce. Here are the statutory fault grounds you could choose from: cruel treatment; adultery; conviction of a felony; abandonment for at least one year; living apart for at least three years; confinement in a mental hospital for at least three years and unlikely to recover from the mental disorder.  Or, you could allege all of them and throw in the no-fault ground for good measure.  No doubt, most married people have - at one time or another - thought all of those allegations about their spouse would fit the bill.  No question about the mental disorder, and, if he or she has not yet been convicted of a felony -- well, you might think, it is bound to happen sooner or later. Often people whose spouses have been unfaithful want to allege adultery as the grounds for divorce.  Let the judge know the truth about what has happened.  It's an understandable reaction to a very painful life event.  But really, it is never a good idea to do that.  There is no privacy in the world these days.  Your allegations will become part of the public record.  Everybody, including your kids and all their friends and their parents, everybody in your family, even your spouse's grandmother, the one you have always liked, will go on line to read your petition for divorce.  Your spouse's current and future employers may well read it.  You want your spouse out there making money to help you support your kids.  Maybe your employer will read it too.  The dean of admissions at the college your child applies to may happen to find it.  You have no reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to any documents filed as public records in your divorce case. In recognition of this sad fact of modern life, the Texas legislature has gradually been paring down the amount of private information required for inclusion in divorce case documents filed of record.  No longer must you state your social security number, date of birth, driver's license number, address, and phone number.  It's a start.  But it is up to you to be conscious of the fact that anybody can look at your filed documents.  As much as you want your spouse to have to face the reality that it is cruel treatment and adultery that have brought your marriage down, it is not in your best interest to say so in a public record.

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