Fault-based divorces in Austin come with an added layer of complexity as it is the petitioner’s burden to prove the reason behind the end of their marriage. There are a variety of grounds that a spouse can allege to establish fault in a divorce case. The two most common are adultery and cruel treatment. A skilled attorney from our firm could help you through the process while providing guidance based on the specifics of your case.

Divorce Caused by Adultery

Adultery can be cited as grounds for divorce if one spouse has a sexual relationship with someone who is not his or her spouse during the marriage. It is important to note that adultery does require proof that there was a sexual relationship between a spouse and someone outside of the marriage. Therefore, it is not sufficient to show that a spouse is having an “emotional relationship” with someone else.

The extent to which an extramarital affair going to matter in the outcome of the case depends on the facts. If the divorce case involves a 25-year marriage and there was one incident 15 years ago, that is not going to carry as much weight as a serial philanderer. It is also important to note the court is unlikely to give much weight to adultery that occurs during a period of separation, or if one spouse knew about the other’s infidelity and continued to stay married to him or her without any objection. In other words, the court must be persuaded that the adultery was the cause of the breakup of the marriage.  Additionally, if the filing party also had an extramarital affair, this could also dilute the significance of an adultery allegation in a divorce. An attorney in Austin can help you file a fault-based divorce if your spouse cheated on you.

There are a variety of discovery tools your lawyer can employ to prove your spouse’s adultery, including deposing both your spouse and the paramour, hiring a private investigator, and subpoenaing text messages and emails exchanged between the cheating parties.

When is Cruel Treatment Cited as Grounds for Divorce?

A court in Austin may grant a fault-based divorce in favor of one spouse if the other is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining party of a nature that renders further living together insupportable. In any dysfunctional marriage, there is going to be some degree of conflict. Whether that degree of conflict rises to a level that would support a finding of cruel treatment is a fact-specific inquiry. Physical abuse typically constitutes cruelty in these cases, but verbal abuse can be more difficult to establish as cruel treatment. It depends on the nature of the abuse. As such, your lawyer is going to need to collect police reports to the extent they exist or medical records documenting any injuries that were sustained from the abuse.

Other Legal Grounds for Divorce

If the other spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been imprisoned for at least one year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a federal penitentiary, or another penitentiary of another state and has not been pardoned, this may also constitute grounds for a fault-based divorce in Austin.

The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other left the complaining party with the intention of abandonment and remained away for at least one year. Spouses have been living apart without cohabitating for at least three years is another viable reason for a fault-based divorce as well as if one spouse has been confined into a mental hospital for at least three years.

Why Would Someone Choose to Pursue a Fault-Based Divorce?

The most common reason to file a fault-based divorce in Austin is because it can have an impact on property division. Under the Texas Family Code, community property is to be divided in a “just and right” manner. This does not always mean a 50-50 property division. In cases where the spouses are similarly situated economically, it is common for the course to order a 50-50 property division.

However, if one spouse can prove fault, then that can be a basis for the court to award this person with more than 50 percent of the community estate. If both partners are at fault, then the issue typically cancels out. If both spouses are at fault, it is less likely that the court is going to factor in fault in determining how the community estate should be divided.

Proving Fault in an Austin Divorce Case

The spouse who is alleging fault has the burden of proof at trial. This means that the spouse alleging fault has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the other party is guilty of either adultery, cruel treatment, or some other fault-based ground. As a result, the accused spouse technically does not have any burden.

Still, the best way to prove that one is not at fault is to discredit the evidence or the allegation that is made by the other spouse. If one spouse is alleging that the other committed adultery and they do not have sufficient evidence, that would be a way to rebut and discredit the allegation.

Contact an Austin Attorney for More Information About Fault-Based Divorces

An experienced attorney could help a spouse prosecute a fault-based divorce in Austin by helping them collect the evidence they need to support their claim. You need an attorney to help you develop a case that persuades the judge or jury to support your claim. An experienced attorney could guide you, particularly through the discovery process, so that you can obtain the information you need from the other party to prove your claim. Contact us today.