In most Texas divorces, both spouses agree to the break-up as well as how property should be divided, what the child custody arrangements should be, and how all other issues should be resolved. This is known as an uncontested divorce. But not every marriage can be dissolved quite that easily.
If there are areas of strong disagreement, the parties may choose to “fight it out” in court. This fighting is what’s known as a contested divorce. These divorces proceed like other cases in Texas civil courts, with various phases that take place over time.
One such phase is called “discovery,” and it is usually the longest—and most invasive—part of the process.
What Is Discovery in A Texas Divorce?
Discovery is the process of locating and exchanging information. Each spouse’s attorney gathers documents and other potential evidence to support each client’s claims and defenses. Then, each spouse shares their evidence with the other so that everyone is on a level playing field; courts don’t like surprises.
The idea behind sharing evidence is that it’s supposed to encourage the spouses to settle before trial. And it tends to work: most divorces that start as contested divorces do eventually settle without going all the way to trial.
What Evidence Is “Discoverable”
One reason discovery often leads to settlement is that the spouses realize just how invasive the process is. Essentially everything about your life can be fair game in discovery, including your:
- Bank statements and other financial information
- Phone records and text messages
- Private journals
- Titles to vehicles and other assets
- Social media activity, including private posts and DMs
- Receipts for purchases of property that could be relevant to asset division
- Criminal records
- Medical history, including mental health and substance abuse, particularly if you have children because this is all relevant in determining custody
Discovery can also mean other people in your life get pulled into your divorce. For example:
- Relatives might need to provide depositions, where your spouse’s lawyer could ask embarrassing questions
- Your work emails can be subpoenaed
- Your neighbor could be brought in to testify
- A doctor or therapist could be made to testify about various treatments and why you receive them
As you can imagine, not many people enjoy the thought of going through things like this just to end their marriage. That’s why discovery so often leads to settlement.
Nevertheless, there are still situations where a couple is willing to go through it and go all the way to trial. You never quite know how your divorce will play out. It’s important to retain an experienced lawyer who has a proven track record of success in resolving divorces, from basic uncontested situations to bitter trials.
That’s the kind of lawyer who can protect your future, no matter what direction your divorce goes.
Get Advice From An Experienced Fort Worth Divorce Attorney
At Schneider Law Firm, our Fort Worth family lawyers have decades of experience guiding clients through the divorce process. We will protect your rights during discovery and through every other step of the process.