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Proving Fault in a Divorce

It used to be that if you wanted a divorce in the State of Texas (and most other states as well), you would have to prove one of the following grounds for divorce: 

  • adultery,
  • cruelty,
  • felony conviction,
  • abandonment,
  • living apart,
  • and confinement in a mental hospital.

This means that unless you were able to prove one of these grounds, you were not entitled to a divorce. 

However, the law evolved and in 1970, Texas led the way for many other states to adopt legislation allowing for “no-fault” divorces. No-fault divorce allows one party to end a marriage without having to prove fault in the break of the marriage by simply alleging that the marriage has become insupportable due to a discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship. 

While you can now get a divorce without proving fault in the break up of the marriage, it is important to know that “grounds for divorce” still exist in Texas. But, it is no longer necessary to prove who was at fault for the break-up of the marriage in order to get a divorce. The purpose of this article is to review the “grounds” for divorce in Texas, and the strategic reasons why a party may or may not want to allege grounds. 

The Role of Fault vs. No-Fault Grounds in Texas

It’s crucial to understand the difference between fault and no-fault grounds for divorce in Texas. Fault grounds necessitate proof of wrongdoing by one party, while the option for no-fault grounds, especially insupportability, allows for divorce without assigning blame. 

Grounds for divorce is also one factor that may allow a judge to divide the property disproportionally in favor of the innocent spouse. For many of our judges, however, proving grounds for divorce is not always the most persuasive argument for a disproportionate division of the marital estate. This will vary from judge to judge. It is important to note that there are other more compelling reasons why a court may make a disproportionate division of property, including factors such as the income earning abilities of the spouses, the benefits a spouse would have had from the continuation of the marriage, the separate property estate of a party, etc. This understanding can influence the approach to divorce proceedings and the overall outcome. Consulting with a qualified family attorney can provide invaluable insight into how these grounds may apply to your situation.

Is Adultery a fault ground for divorce in Texas?

Adultery is indeed considered a fault ground for divorce in Texas. The impact of adultery on divorce can be significant, as it can influence the division of community property. However, proving adultery can be difficult. It is not unusual for a spouse to want to allege adultery when they have a feeling that an extramarital relationship has been occurring. Maybe their spouse has been secretive lately about his or her whereabouts, or their spouse is suddenly working extra late hours and taking work trips that were not previously required. Or they found receipts for gifts that were purchased for someone else. 

These are certainly factors that may suggest an extramarital affair, but these factors may not be sufficient to “prove” adultery. So before these allegations are made in a divorce proceeding, it is important to know what constitutes evidence of adultery. Making allegations of adultery without sufficient proof can create obstacles to property settlements that may be more advantageous than a costly legal battle to prove your spouse was unfaithful. 

What is the Legal Implications of Cruelty as a Ground for Divorce

The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable. What constitutes “cruel treatment” is not spelled out in the Texas Family Code. However, Texas courts have found that cruel treatment requires more than disagreements, being embarrassed or arguing over trivial matters. A finding of family violence could substantiate cruel treatment. However, where family violence requires physical action or the threat of physical action, divorce on the grounds of cruel treatment does not. It is possible that someone who has suffered from emotional, verbal and financial abuse could be “unendurable, insufferable or intolerable.” 

Since the one inflicting cruel treatment rarely admits to such behavior, it is likely that you will need to prove the cruel treatment in a court of law in order to have the divorce rendered on the grounds of cruel treatment. If you have struggled in a marriage where you believe you have been treated cruelly, you need to get speak with a family law attorney to understand the type of evidence that will be required to establish a claim for cruel treatment. 

The Impact of Felony Convictions in Divorce Cases

A felony conviction of one spouse can significantly impact child custody, visitation rights, and asset division in divorce cases. Specifically, to obtain on a divorce on the grounds of a felony conviction, you will need to prove: 1) that your spouse committed a felony (that was not based on your testimony), 2) has been imprisoned for at least on year; and 3) has not been pardoned. 

It’s important to know how Texas law addresses these situations, as it can be crucial for individuals facing such complex circumstances, to make well-informed decisions and approach the situation with clarity.

Is Living Apart Ground for Divorce in Texas?

Living apart can serve as grounds for divorce in Texas. To file for divorce on the grounds of “living apart” you will need to prove that you and your spoues have not cohabitated for at least three years. 

It’s important for individuals going through a divorce to understand the legal details about living apart as a reason for ending the marriage. 

Understanding Abandonment as Ground for Divorce

Abandonment, when one spouse leaves the other with the intention of abandonment, can serve as grounds for divorce in Texas. In order to prove abandonment as grounds for divorce, you will need to prove that your other spouse moved away with the intent of abandoning the marriage relationship and stayed away for more than one year. This is similar to “living apart.” However, abandonment places fault on one person, where “living apart” may have been a mutual decision.

Understanding the legal process and ramifications associated with abandonment as grounds for divorce is essential for those facing this challenging situation. Additionally, being informed about the potential impact of abandonment on alimony, property division, and child custody matters is helpful for navigating the divorce proceedings, and making the best strategic decisions.

Can Insupportability Lead to Divorce in Texas?

Insupportability is a no-fault ground for divorce in Texas. It allows couples to end their marriage without any blame. That’s not to say there isn’t blame – there often is a lot of blame and fault in the breakup of a marriage, and each party often has a list of all the wrongs done to them. However, filing under our no-fault divorce statute allows families to skip the evidentiary hurdles required for proving grounds, and instead place the focus on their futures. This kind of divorce can be streamlined, leading to a quicker resolution and reduced conflict (and reduced legal fees), it’s still important to understand the legal implications for those seeking a peaceful way to end their marriage. 

Legal Challenges During Divorce

At Hargrave Family Law, we understand the difficulties and emotional challenges associated with divorce. Our compassionate team is dedicated to providing professional legal guidance to individuals facing the sensitive intricacies of divorce in Texas. If you need expert legal assistance, contact us today for personalized legal solutions.