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Fault vs. No-Fault Grounds for Texas Divorce

No matter where you live, in order to obtain a dissolution of your marriage you are going to have to list some sort of grounds for divorce. The “grounds for divorce” is the basis or reason why you want to end your marriage. Until the early 1970s in Texas, one spouse must have committed some sort of wrong in order for the other spouse to file for a divorce. Known as a “fault” divorce, this was the only way to obtain a divorce without the approval of the other spouse, which left little recourse for people who were simply unhappy in their marriage but could not get their spouse to agree to end the union.

However, most states—including Texas—now also have the option for “no-fault” divorces. Some states in the US, in fact, have moved towards completely eliminating fault as an option as grounds for getting a divorce, but a majority still give you the option to pursue your divorce on either fault or no-fault grounds. Texas falls into this category. Below we have outlined the seven different grounds for which you can file for divorce in the state of Texas.

No-Fault Grounds

Insupportability – Technically speaking, this is the only no-fault reason for getting divorced in Texas. If you want to end your marriage based on insupportability, it means that there has been some sort of breakdown in your union from which you do not believe your marriage can recover. Often referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” insupportability means there are fundamental aspects about each spouse’s personality which are incompatible with a marriage. This covers a broad spectrum of potential issues, and there is no need to demonstrate any fault or blame for the breakdown. As a result, most people who do not wish to “air their dirty laundry” file simply for a no-fault divorce.

Fault Grounds

Cruelty – A person can seek a divorce based on the fact that his or her spouse has been unreasonably cruel to them. This can refer to either mental, emotional, or physical cruelty that has made it impossible for the individual seeking the divorce to continue living with the perpetrator of the cruelty.

Adultery – If one spouse engages in voluntary sexual intercourse with someone besides their spouse, this can be used as grounds for a divorce in Texas. It is interesting to note that the courts have found that adultery is not limited to actions committed before the parties separated.

Separation – A court may rule in favor of either spouse in granting a divorce if the couple has lived apart from one another for at least three years.

Abandonment – When one spouse leaves the other with the intention to abandon them, and that spouse remains away for at least one year, the spouse who was abandoned can obtain a divorce based on being abandoned by the spouse who left.

Felony Conviction – If one spouse has been convicted of any felony and has been incarcerated in any state or federal prison without a pardon for at least a year, his or her spouse can obtain a fault-based divorce. An interesting caveat to this ground is the fact that a court may not grant a divorce under this section against a spouse who was convicted on the testimony of the other spouse.

Mental Hospital Confinement – If one spouse has been confined in a mental hospital for a period of at least three years, and it appears that his or her condition will not improve or a relapse would be likely if it did improve, the other spouse may be granted a divorce.

While anyone can file for a no-fault divorce in Texas, filing for a fault divorce could have a major impact on key financial elements that must be decided, such as the division of assets or decisions regarding spousal maintenance.Because the Court must render a “fair, just, and equitable” division of the parties’ community estate, a divorce for fault grounds might result in a greater portion of the community estate if you are the nonoffending spouse or a lesser portion of the community estate if you are the offending spouse. In either situation, it is essential that you discuss your options with a skilled divorce attorney who can advise you on the best course of action for your unique circumstances. Contact the Hollwarth Law Firm at (903) 234-0711 today!

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