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What Are the Grounds for a Fault & No-Fault Divorce in Texas?

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.

Texas recognizes a fault and no-fault divorce. No matter which one you choose, your fault or no-fault divorce 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:

  • Child custody
  • Spousal support
  • 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.

Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce in Texas: What’s the Difference?

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 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 (but we will talk about that later).

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.

While there may be some benefits of seeking a fault divorce in Texas, most couples file for a no-fault divorce because:

  1. A no-fault divorce is less adversarial, stressful, and emotionally taxing than a fault divorce;
  2. The Petitioner does not have to prove the other spouse’s fault;
  3. Fault-based divorces are more time-consuming than no-fault divorces; and
  4. Fault divorces are usually more expensive than no-fault divorces.

What Are the Fault Grounds for a Texas Divorce?

Texas Family Code Chapter 6 Subchapter A recognizes these four most common grounds for a fault divorce:

  1. Cruelty. Texas courts can grant a fault divorce based on the grounds of cruelty if the spouse requesting a divorce can prove that the other spouse is guilty of “cruel treatment” toward them. The cruel treatment must be so significant and unbearable to the point that living together becomes “insupportable.” In order to obtain a divorce based on cruelty, you must prove that you suffered physically or mentally as a result of your spouse’s willful and cruel treatment.

  2. Adultery. 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 and extramarital affair through circumstantial evidence, including photos, emails, bank statements of expensive gifts, and others.

  3. 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, sentenced to at least 12 months in jail, and wasn’t pardoned. Note: 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).

  4. Abandonment. If your spouse has voluntarily left or abandoned you for over a year, you could file for a divorce on the grounds of abandonment. However, you must prove that you were abandoned for one continuous year and that your spouse willfully left you.

If you are considering a fault-based divorce in Texas, consult with a Williamson County divorce lawyer to determine which option is best for your unique situation.

What Are the No-Fault Grounds for a Texas Divorce?

Most divorcing couples in Texas pursue a no-fault divorce because they do not have to prove that anyone is to blame for the dissolution of marriage, which makes the divorce process cheaper, faster, and less stressful.

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. Common no-fault divorce grounds in Texas include:

  1. Insupportability. The vast majority of divorcing couples seeking a no-fault divorce in Texas 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 do not have “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”

  2. Living apart. You can invoke this ground for a no-fault divorce in Texas if you and your spouse have been living apart for over three years.

  3. Confinement in psychiatric care. If your spouse has been confined in a mental or psychiatric hospital for at least three years, and your spouse’s mental illness is so severe that they are unlikely to adjust or relapse is probable.

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.

Call a Williamson County Divorce Lawyer Today

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.

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) 220-4225">(254) 220-4225 or filling out this contact form.

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