After a married couple decides to end the marriage, the next step is to legally dissolve the marriage by filing for divorce. One of the decisions the Petitioner (spouse filing the divorce) must make is which grounds to use when filing. Texas offers both no-fault and fault grounds. Fort Worth divorce attorney Jon Boyd explains why you might choose to file a fault divorce in Texas.
Until relatively recently, a divorce could not be granted in most states unless the Petitioner proved that he/she had “grounds” to end the marriage. In other words, you had to prove that the other spouse did something wrong before a court would allow you out of the marriage. Over the last several decades, the law has slowly recognized that requiring one spouse to prove fault on the part of the other spouse is often counter-productive. Today, most states either allow both fault and no-fault divorces or have moved to a completely no-fault based divorce system. Texas is one of the states that allows you to file using fault or no-fault grounds.
If you do not wish the burden of proving that your spouse was at fault in your marriage, Texas allows you to file for divorce using one of three no-fault grounds, including:
Insupportability – this is what people commonly refer to as “irreconcilable differences.” By far the simplest of all the grounds, insupportability only requires you to show that there was discord or a conflict of personalities that has destroyed the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Living Apart – if you have lived apart without cohabitating for three years or more you can use that as a no-fault ground for divorce.
Confinement to a Mental Hospital — this requires you to show that your spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years and that the severity of their mental disorder is to the degree that it’s unlikely to improve and, if it does, relapse of the disorder is very likely.
Using one of the available fault grounds when you file for divorce is an option; however, it will likely result in the divorce taking longer and costing more because you must prove the grounds you allege. Texas allows you to file for divorce using the following fault grounds:
Cruelty — defined as willfully causing pain or suffering to your spouse that is so bad it renders living together insupportable. The pain or suffering may be mental or physical.
Adultery — defined as “the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one not the husband or wife of the offender.” Acts of adultery that occur after you file for divorce and are no longer cohabitating can still be used to prove adultery in a fault divorce.
Felony Criminal Conviction – if your spouse has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned for at least a year (and not pardoned) it can be used as grounds for divorce unless the case against your spouse was based on your
Abandonment – your spouse must have left voluntarily, and they must have had the intent to abandon you. They also must remain gone for at least one year. Intent to abandon typically means a spouse has an intention to not to return to live with his or her spouse.
Given that a no-fault divorce is typically quicker and less expensive, why would you ever file a fault divorce? The answer usually relates to how proving fault can impact the terms of the divorce. For example, if an adulterous spouse also squandered assets during his/her philandering, the court may award the innocent spouse a larger share of the marital property. Likewise, if a spouse is shown to have been abusive during the marriage, it could directly impact who is awarded conservatorship over the minor children. If you believe that you can prove fault grounds in your divorce, consult with an experienced Texas divorce attorney to decide whether filing a fault divorce is the right option for you.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the Texas divorce process, contact an experienced Fort Worth divorce attorney at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.