A pending bill in the Texas legislature, if enacted, could add time, complication and expense to the divorce process in Texas. A conservative representative from Fort Worth introduced legislation that would end no-fault divorces.
Under a no-fault divorce, couples may amicably end their marriages with neither spouse asserting blame.
The couple may claim that the marriage became insupportable because of discord or a personality conflicts that destroys the legitimacy of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
However, insupportability would no longer constitute grounds for divorce under this proposal. Couples would have to live apart for three years before filing for an amicable divorce. A spouse who does not want to wait this long would have to make an accusation that their partner engaged in cruelty, adultery or that the other spouse abandoned them after a year of living separately. A felony conviction or confinement to a mental hospital could also constitute other grounds.
This bill was first introduced in the legislature’s 2015 session. It was approved in a bipartisan 4-3 vote in committee, but did not reach the floor.
Supporters claim that eliminating no-fault divorce would make couples concentrate on saving their marriages and take their vows more seriously. They argue that this would strengthen families and lead to better outcomes for children.
Opponents argue that this bill is unlikely to pass and would make divorces more expensive and cause additional family turmoil. It would take family law back many years and infringe on personal freedom.
Texas began the millennium with 3.2 divorces per 1,000 people. This dropped to 2.6 divorces per 1,000 people in 2014 according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
An attorney can help explain the best legal options to help make the end of a marriage less expensive and expeditious. Legal representation can also help a spouse protect their rights and properly address these divorce legal issues.
Source: The Houston Chronicle, “Fort Worth lawmaker wants to end no-fault divorce in Texas,” Andrea Zelinski, Dec. 23, 2016