The Push to end the No Fault Divorce in Texas

In a recent blog post, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan discussed with you what a No Fault divorce is in Texas as opposed to a Divorce based on “Fault” grounds.

To sum it up quickly for those who missed that post (and we do encourage everyone who hasn’t read it to go back in our archives and do so) a divorce can be had in Texas by stating a Fault for the divorce (cruelty, abandonment, etc.) or by stating no specific ground at all- a “No Fault” divorce. No matter why you tell the court you want the divorce you can now get a divorce for a myriad of reasons or none at all.

However, one State Representative sought to change all that by filing a bill prior to this most recent legislative session that would eliminate the ability of a person to file for a divorce on a “No Fault” basis. This blog post will detail that bill, what its effect could be and the current status of the legislation.

Who is Matt Krause and what does his bill seek to accomplish?

The author of the aforementioned bill (titled House Bill 93) that intends to do away with the No Fault divorce is named Matt Krause. Mr. Krause is a Republican State Representative from Fort Worth whose motivation in filing the bill was to make it more difficult for married people to file for and get a divorce.

In forcing people to cite a specific reason why their marriage is no longer workable, Mr. Krause believed that families would be strengthened due to the heightened scrutiny a Court would pay to their Petition for Divorce.

No longer, the argument goes, would a person be able to file for divorce because he or she was annoyed with how their partner sings in the shower. Now there would have to be a truly egregious, specific reason for the marriage to end.

Families would stay together longer, reconciliation would be encouraged and our overburdened Courts would see their dockets decrease in size.

Rather than have me editorialize on anything that has to do with Mr. Krause’s opinions, here is what he told reporters in late 2016 just weeks before the 2017 legislative session kicked off:

“I don’t know if we don’t take our vows as seriously as we used to, but I think getting rid of the no-fault divorce piece of this may make folks concentrate on this a little harder before they enter into that relationship, or stick it out to where they can restore that relationship and the tough times in marriage,” he said.

“Stronger families lead to stronger children”, is not a saying that I think many people would disagree with. However, the question as presented to his fellow legislators is whether or not Mr. Krause’s solution is one that is in the best interest of those Texas families it aims to help.

Unintended side effects of the bill

What Mr. Krause perhaps did not consider when he filed this bill (I should note that Mr. Krause filed a similar bill prior to the 2015 legislative session as well) is that in his attempt to strengthen marriages and enforce the sanctity of the commitment he may be pushing people to do things that are not good for them personally or their families long term.

Any divorce attorney can tell you that if a client cites a specific fault for the breakup of the marriage that usually means the case will head to trial due to the difficulty of settling before a judge has an opportunity to weigh in. Proving a specific fault can be difficult, which means that clients will spend more money to allow their lawyers to present a case that may result in the fault ground being awarded.

What eliminating no fault divorce may end up resulting in is the inability of people to dissolve a marriage on their terms in a manner that is fairly quick and relatively inexpensive. A no fault divorce allows married persons to utilize the courts to formally and amicably separate from one another and to settle on outcomes for their children and property.

On the other hand, if people are forced to file on fault grounds for divorce it is unlikely that we will see divorce rates fall dramatically. My opinion is that divorces would still be filed for at “normal” rates, just with people claiming false reasons for the breakup.

Effect on Low Income Texans

People that already have a difficult time as it is to afford proper legal representation may lack the wherewithal to remove themselves from a difficult marriage, hire a lawyer and prepare for a lengthy divorce in order to meet the fault grounds that would be necessary under Mr. Krause’s bill.

No fault divorces on the other hand allow for married people to remove themselves from an undesirable situation with relative ease and without a protracted legal battle.

Another group of people that may be harmed by the potential elimination of the no fault divorce are victims of domestic abuse. Ironically, abuse/cruelty is a fault ground for divorce but unless there is a substantial community estate at play or if the children of the marriage would be endangered by the abusive spouse there is less of a reason to file on this fault ground.

If the abused spouse would need to go toe to toe with their abuser in court this could make for an extremely uncomfortable and emotionally volatile situation that otherwise could be avoided.

End Result for House Bill 93

Ultimately, Mr. Krause’s bill did not make it out of the Juvinile Justice and Family Issues Committee. No Fault divorce is still possible in the State of Texas and depending on your viewpoint this is either a good or bad thing.

Regardless, topics in law are ever changing especially in the area of family law and the need for strong, experienced representation is as important now as it ever has been.

To learn more about the grounds for divorce in Texas and to have your questions on this subject answered please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Consultations with one of our attorneys is free of charge and we serve clients across Southeast Texas.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Tomball, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Tomball, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Tomball TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Tomball, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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