Keeping it quiet: The increasing use of initials in divorce petitions

In today’s era of modern technology where information is able to be widely disseminated in just a few keystrokes, it’s not uncommon for people to go the extra mile to protect their privacy. In fact, this trend is becoming increasingly common in the area of family law, as more Texans seem to be choosing to file their divorce decrees using only their initials.

Indeed, many Texas celebrities have filed their divorce petitions under their initials, including Jesse James and Sandra Bullock, and Tony Parker and Eva Longoria.

Under Texas law, such an action is legally permissible by virtue of the fact that there is no express prohibition against it. Specifically, Section 6.401 of the Texas Family Code reads, “Pleadings in a suit for divorce or annulment shall be styled ‘In the Matter of the Marriage of __________ and __________.'”

Why would a spouse or couple seeking a divorce choose to file their divorce petition in this manner?

According to legal experts, there are really two primary reasons why a spouse or a couple would choose to file their divorce petition using only their initials.

First, it would protect their children from potential embarrassment/trauma if the couple hasn’t yet decided to broach the topic with them.

“It is tough on kids, especially junior high and high school age, if parents have kept the fighting behind closed doors. Sometimes the parents haven’t even sat down with the kids to talk to them about it yet,” said family law attorney Jimmy Cassels. “The divorce filing comes out in the paper on Sunday, and then everyone is in the know but them.”

The second reason a spouse would file a divorce petition has less to do with family and more to do with money, specifically asset protection.

In most cases, it takes a family court judge anywhere from four to five days to sign a court order that freezes the couples assets. However, in the interim, an unscrupulous spouse can unfairly seize either money or property.

Here, a divorce petition using only initials may help prevent this scenario.

It is worth noting that once the divorce is finalized, the file – which usually contains full names in the body of the text and signatures – is available for the public to see.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about dissolution of marriage or life after divorce, contact an experienced legal or financial professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Initial decision: Couples begin hiding names in divorce filings (The Lufkin Daily News)