Updated on August 22, 2022
If you have started thinking about divorce, you should understand the different types of divorce in Texas before going to court to file your papers.
While the vast majority of divorces in Texas are no-fault, some divorces are based on fault, which must be proven. Whether you choose a fault or no-fault divorce, your petition must be based on at least one ground. Under Texas law, there are seven grounds for divorce.
Depending on which ground is invoked, your divorce may be classified as either a fault or no-fault divorce. The classification of your divorce will have a significant effect on various aspects of your divorce, including the following agreements:
Division of property
It is highly advised to consult with a Williamson County divorce lawyer to understand your legal rights and determine which type of divorce you need in your specific situation.
The Differences Between Fault and No-Fault Divorces
It’s essential to understand the difference between a fault-based and no-fault divorce in order to make an informed decision and choose the right type of divorce for your particular situation.
As mentioned earlier, whether you pursue a fault or no-fault divorce in Texas will have a major impact on the outcome of your case. For example, your marital assets may not be split equally if your spouse files for a fault divorce on the grounds of adultery and can prove that you had an extramarital affair.
As its name implies, a fault divorce requires the Petitioner (the spouse filing an Original Petition for Divorce) to prove that the other spouse (the Respondent) is somehow responsible for the destruction of their marriage.
A no-fault divorce, on the other hand, does not require either party to assign fault for the dissolution of marriage. However, you still need grounds for a no-fault divorce in Texas.
Whether you are seeking a fault or no-fault divorce, it is best to contact a Williamson County divorce lawyer to understand how to proceed in your particular situation.
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce
While there may be some benefits of seeking a fault divorce in Texas, most couples file for a no-fault divorce for these reasons:
A no-fault divorce is less adversarial, stressful, and emotionally taxing than a fault divorce.
The Petitioner does not have to prove the other spouse’s fault.
No-fault divorces are less time-consuming than fault-based divorces.
No-fault divorces are usually less expensive than fault-based divorces.
While a spouse seeking a no-fault divorce does not need to prove that their spouse was at fault, they still need to cite a reason for the divorce before a court will grant it. Here are several examples of common no-fault divorce grounds in Texas:
Most divorcing couples seeking a no-fault divorce cite the ground of “insupportability.” Under Texas Family Code § 6.001, a court will grant a divorce on the grounds of insupportability if the marriage was destroyed by “discord or conflict of personalities” and the parties don’t have “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.” These grounds are closely associated with less time-consuming and less costly divorces.
While Texas does not recognize legal separations, it will consider a separation of three years or more as a potentially valid means of securing a no-fault divorce.
You can invoke the ground of living apart for a no-fault divorce in Texas if you and your spouse have been living apart for over three years. This ground can be more complicated if your spouse is living out of state. Consult with a Williamson County divorce lawyer to know how to move forward.
Confinement in Psychiatric Care
If your spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years (with no real chance of recovery), it can be an uncommon but not unheard-of mechanism for obtaining a no-fault divorce in Texas.
As you can see, seeking a no-fault divorce can be tricky in Texas. That is why it is highly advised to consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to explore your options as the Petitioner.
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce
True to its maverick ways, Texas is one of the last states that continue to offer divorce based on fault.
Fault-based divorces generally take longer, cost more, and air more dirty laundry (divorce records are public records). However, pursuing a fault-based divorce can influence your divorce terms, including alimony, the division of marital property, and, in some rare cases, your child custody arrangements.
It’s important to remember that, in order to acquire a fault-based divorce, you must be able to prove your accusation of fault. This proof can be based on testimony from witnesses with close knowledge of the wrongdoing or on documentation and supporting evidence.
Fault can come in many forms. Texas Family Code Chapter 6 Subchapter A recognizes some of the most common fault-based grounds for divorce, including adultery, cruelty, a felony criminal conviction, and abandonment.
Courts can grant a divorce on the grounds of cruelty if the requesting spouse proves that they suffered physically or mentally as a result of their spouse’s willful and cruel treatment. The cruel treatment must be so significant and unbearable to the point that living together becomes “insupportable.”
Both physical and emotional abuse can count toward grounds of cruelty. Texas takes domestic violence very seriously, and your primary concern in such situations is ensuring your and your children's safety.
Each case of alleged cruelty must be examined on its own merits. Because cruelty can be subjective, the court will look for the purposeful and persistent infliction of unnecessary physical or emotional suffering. Constant bickering will likely not suffice.
Adultery, which can be found in Texas Family Code § 6.003, is defined as “the voluntary sexual intercourse” between a married person and another person other than the married person’s spouse. You can seek a fault divorce based on adultery if you can prove your spouse’s infidelity.
Conviction of a Felony
The third ground for a fault divorce in Texas can be invoked when your spouse is convicted of a felony. The court will grant a divorce based on a felony conviction if your spouse was convicted of a felony during the course of your marriage, sentenced to at least 12 months in jail, and wasn’t pardoned.
The court would not grant a divorce due to a conviction of a felony if your spouse was convicted based on your testimony, but you can still obtain a divorce on other grounds.
If your spouse has voluntarily left or abandoned you for over a year, you could file for a divorce on the grounds of abandonment. Learn how to prove abandonment in a divorce.
No matter what grounds you are pursuing, you need to be able to prove them to obtain a divorce.
Turn to a Dedicated Williamson County Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our knowledgeable and reputable divorce attorneys will explain how the different types of divorce can affect your unique situation. Schedule a FREE case review by calling (254) 781-4222 or by filling out this contact form.