These days, it is impossible to find a state that doesn’t offer the option for a no-fault divorce.
The last state to pass such legislation was New York in 2010. Texas offers its residents the option of filing either at-fault or no-fault divorces.
Nonetheless, when a couple makes their petition to the court, they must offer some grounds on which to divorce in Texas. In light of this, the following discusses the various grounds for dissolving marriages.
Grounds for Dissolving a No-Fault Divorce
In a no-fault divorce, a spouse must claim that the marriage is “insupportable”. That means that there are irreconcilable differences between the couple that are past any point of repairing.
There’s no chance that the couple will ever resolve these differences, and the best path forward for everyone is to go their separate ways.
The Pros and Cons of No-Fault Divorce
No-fault divorces are less expensive to litigate and less time-consuming. They can be pursued without the compliance of spurned spouse. In other words, no-fault divorce laws give the power to one spouse to simply walk away from a marriage without having to worry about the other spouse signing off.
There will, however, be some cases in which pursuing fault in a divorce will be advantageous to one of the spouses. Considerations like spousal support, custody, and property division may be impacted when one spouse chooses a no-fault option. In other words, it can cost a spouse money and power if they don’t pursue an at-fault divorce in Texas.
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Texas
Some states only allow no-fault grounds for dissolving a marriage regardless of what the circumstances are. Texas allows you to file both no-fault and fault-based claims.
Pursuing an at-fault divorce in Texas is trickier, more time consuming, and more expensive. Nonetheless, it can also be the best option under certain circumstances. Here, the grounds for filing a divorce are based on assigning blame to one spouse.
Grounds in Texas for filing fault-based divorces include:
- One spouse is emotionally or physically abusive to the other
- One spouse is unfaithful to the other
- One spouse commits a felony resulting in 1 year or more imprisonment
- One spouse abandons the other for a period of 1 year
- The couple is living apart for a period of 3 years
- One spouse is involuntarily confined to a psychiatric hospital
A key to the process of filing an at-fault divorce in Texas is being sure that you have to proof to back the grounds. In other words, if your spouse has been unfaithful to you, you need to be able to prove that to the court. Suspicion of infidelity is not enough.
If your grounds for an at-fault divorce cannot be proven to the standards of the court, the court will deny your petition to file a fault-based divorce.
Condonation as Grounds for Reversing a Fault Divorce
At-fault divorces can get ugly. They also clog up the courts with petitioners throwing accusations back and forth at one another. Sometimes these accusations have merit and sometimes they don’t. Whatever you accuse your spouse of must meet two requirements. The first is that you can prove it in court. The second requirement is a bit trickier.
Let’s say your grounds for an at-fault divorce is drug abuse and infidelity. Your spouse likes to spend time at the bar and you found out that they had an affair with someone else. You can file an at-fault divorce in Texas on those grounds, but if the behavior was part of an ongoing pattern that you implicitly condoned by not filing the divorce after the first time it happened, then your case may be thrown out on the grounds of condonation.
This, however, shifts the burden of proof to the at-fault spouse. The at-fault spouse can claim that the petitioner forgave them the first time they cheated on them and didn’t seem to care that they like to spend evenings out at the bar. At this point, the at-fault spouse must be able to prove two things:
- The petitioner forgave them for the marital misconduct
- The at-fault spouse was remorseful and did not commit the act again
If the at-fault spouse can prove this is more likely than not, the court will grant their motion for a no-fault divorce.
Logistically, all the at-fault spouse has to prove is that the petitioner forgave their misconduct and tacitly condoned it. Technically, they should have to show a pattern of remorse, but courts are incentivized to push spouses through the no-fault system because it’s less of a burden on the docket.
The Insanity Defense
Another way that a spouse can have an at-fault divorce converted to a no-fault divorce is by pleading insanity.
For instance, let’s say you have a spouse who has behaved erratically and cruelly. This is grounds for an at-fault divorce. If this spouse can be shown to have an untreated mental health problem at the time of the illegal or cruel behavior, then they can’t be held liable for fault in Texas.
A Texas judge would consider the behavior an indication of an untreated medical problem and not grounds for fault in a divorce. In other words, the only option left to pursue is a no-fault divorce.
How Should I Proceed?
If you believe that you have cause to file for a fault-based divorce, your first order of business will be to a find a lawyer who understands your story and listens to your concerns. They can make the proper arrangements to file your claim with the court.
You should understand that the process of filing a no-fault divorce is streamlined and simple by comparison. For those who want to prove fault in a divorce, it’s an uphill battle. The courts are looking for reasons to deny fault-based claims. Nonetheless, if your case is prepared well and your reasons are justified, they will not be able to find legal grounds to force you into a no-fault divorce.
If you feel strongly about pursuing fault in a divorce, contact the Law Offices of Ben Carrasco PLLC in Austin, Texas. You can reach us by phone at 512-320-9126 or contact us online. We have the experience you need to make the best possible case before the court.