Going through a divorce is never a fun experience – even the most amicable situations can require complex legal proceedings. One aspect which makes this so difficult is the laws surrounding grounds for divorce in the first place. Every state in the country offers some form of no-fault divorce – where neither spouse is considered to blame for a failed marriage – but navigating the legal language, and understanding how the facts may affect proceedings, can be tricky. Here, we take a look at Texas state law and examine how divorce begins within the Lone Star State.
Texas Divorce Law
Although Texas offers no-fault divorce, legal paperwork will list the cause of divorce as “insupportability” which does not place blame on either party. There are seven legal grounds for divorce in Texas, whether blame is assigned or not.
- Insupportability – the exact language of the statute recites that the parties’ marriage has become insupportable because of the discord between them and the conflict in personalities. The language does not place blame –but rather refers to irreconcilable differences in the marriage. There also is included an assertion that there is no reasonable chance for reconciliation.
- This will usually apply in cases of physical or emotional domestic abuse.
- Adultery, which is specifically defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person, not the spouse.
- Conviction of a felony. Note that your spouse must have been imprisoned for a year minimum, and your testimony must not have helped bring about a conviction.
- One spouse leaves with the intention to abandon. Abandoning spouse must have been away for at least one year.
- Living apart. The spouses must have lived apart for at least three years.
- Confinement in a mental hospital. In this particular case, the confinement must be a minimum of three years and involve a mental disorder which will not improve.
Divorce Grounds in Court
No-fault divorce treats both parties equally in property division, should no other factors be in play. However, in fault-based cases of divorce, the at-fault party faces a significant disadvantage when it comes to division of the community property or considerations of post-divorce alimony. Defenses against divorce are rare, but not unheard of, so it may be worth considering an appropriate ground for divorce – even if that choice is no-fault.
Divorce with no fault grounds also places both parties on an equal basis in the decision regarding primary custody regarding the children of the marriage and visitation by the other parent with the children. A fault ground for divorce may play a large role in the consideration of which parent would be best suitable for primary care of the children. If the fault grounds were cruelty or mental health issues resulting in commitment or criminal behavior that lead to imprisonment, the court would naturally have concerns about the safety of the children when in the care of the parent at fault in the break-up of the marriage.
In most cases, choosing the legal grounds for divorce is simply a matter of establishing a just cause for the proceedings. In those situations where it is relevant, however, it can have a major role in how the marriage ends and how family, property, and wealth are divided.
For those seeking legal advice and representation in an upcoming divorce, Dallas family lawyer Mary Ann Beaty brings over 40 years of experience in northern Texas to family law. Visit her website to learn more.