When a person walks into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC and seeks a consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss a divorce, the person will invariably get into the grievances that they have against their spouse. From:
- to ignoring the children
- to spending money without regard for the needs of their spouse
The reasons for wanting to divorce are many.
Why Texas Grounds for a Divorce are Important
As a general rule for a Texas divorce a person does not need a particular reason to divorce their spouse. However, to obtain a divorce, the requesting spouse must plead and prove there is at least one ground for granting the divorce.
There are seven valid grounds to specify in a divorce petition. Six are fault grounds and one (insupportability) no-fault grounds those grounds include:
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental hospital
- Conviction of a felony
The rest of this blog post will go through those grounds in some detail.
Why Plead a Fault Ground?
If successful in proving a fault ground for divorce specified below the party may be able to a better division of the community estate.
Even if a fault ground is plead a Judge has the discretion of granting the divorce on the ground of insupportability instead.
Amount and Duration of Spousal Support
In addition, if a spouse is eligible under the law to receive spousal support under Texas Law and a Judge is inclined to award spousal support then a Judge may consider marital fault when awarding the amount and duration of spousal support in the divorce.
Historical Reasons Why Texas Divorce Fault Grounds Exist
For a long time in Texas (and many other states) a person who wanted to get divorced from their spouse had to specify the grounds for they are basing their divorce on.
This led to persons having to invent reasons why they are requesting the divorce when in actuality the reason was more or less just being tired of looking across the breakfast table and seeing the other person each day.
No-Fault Divorce or Insupportability
Nowadays the most common reason for divorce in Texas is called “insupportability”.
The actual language that is used in an Original Petition for Divorce is that “the marriage has become insupportable because of discord and conflict, which destroys the legitimate end of the marriage relationship and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”
All that means is that there has become a fundamental breakdown in the marriage relationship due to nothing more than a conflict of attitudes of at least one spouse.
The parties do not expect to be able to ever get along well enough to continue the marriage so a divorce is being asked for.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Cruelty
A spouse in Texas is able to cite Cruelty as grounds for divorce as well under Texas Family Code Section 6.002. Pleading this in a petition is easy enough to do, but actually proving it to a Court is more difficult.
Cruel treatment means the behavior of one spouse is so extreme as to make it impossible for the parties to live together under the same roof.
This cruel treatment can be physical or emotional in nature. Evidence can be hard to come by in order to prove cruel treatment in a divorce so a party who wishes to plead cruel treatment as a ground for divorce ought to be open and honest with the attorney so that necessary evidence can be located.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Conviction of a Felony
The other spouse is convicted of a felony is another ground that a person can plead for in a divorce petition in Texas under Texas Family Code Section 6.004.
The time that the spouse has spent in prison must be longer than one year and a pardon must not have been granted in his or her case.
Fortunately, I can’t recall a client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC who has been able to plead this ground and I’ll go on the record as saying that is a good thing.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Abandonment
Abandonment is next on our list of grounds to specify for a Texas divorce. Under Family Code Section 6.005 a spouse must show:
- that the other spouse left the marital home and did not intend to return, and
- the spouse will need to prove that the abandoning spouse has been out of the home for at least one year with no contact having been made with the spouse still living in the marital residence.
If nothing else, pleading this ground can show a Court that the other spouse is not honoring their obligation to the children of the marriage if there are any.
Even if the spouse asking for the divorce does not satisfy the burden of proving that the other spouse has been gone for at least a year it’s not as if being gone for six or eight months is a good look for that parent at the outset of a divorce.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Living Apart
A similar but less severe sounding ground for divorce in Texas when compared to Abandonment is Living Apart which is found under Texas Family Code Section 6.006.
If a person filing for divorce and their spouse have been living apart from one another for at least three years then they may have grounds to plead this way.
When I first began working as a family law attorney this was perhaps the most surprising thing that I learned about marriages- that people get married and just decide to live apart from their spouse for an extended period of time.
The general attitude of folks is that they just never got around to filing for the divorce and are therefore requesting to do so now.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Confinement in a Mental Hospital
A fairly uncommon but perfectly legal ground for divorce in Texas is Confinement in a Mental Hospital under Section 6.007 of the Texas Family Code.
When a person’s spouse has been:
- confined in a mental hospital
- for at least three years and
- it appears that the hospitalized spouse's mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or that, if adjustment occurs, a relapse is probable.
Texas Fault Ground for Divorce - Adultery
By far the most frequent ground for divorce that potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC inquire about is Adultery.
What adultery means from a legal perspective is having sexual intercourse with a person while married to another person.
While for decades adultery may have meant the pendulum of a divorce court swinging in the faithful spouse’s favor in dramatic fashion, in today’s world this is not as much the case as it had been in years prior.
The rationale for pleading adultery is if a person can prove that their spouse drained community bank accounts or other assets on their side relationship a greater share of the community estate may be awarded to the faithful spouse.
If children are involved, a more friendly visitation/possession/access arrangement may be forthcoming if Adultery can be proved to have had a severely detrimental effect on the parent’s relationship with the children.
In practice though, adultery can be hard to prove and unless the effect on the marriage was fairly significant the ultimate grounds for divorce will most likely be insupportability.
Whatever a person’s reasons for wanting the divorce, the simple fact that they are considering ending their marriage is reason enough to consider speaking to an experienced, professional family law attorney. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handle divorce cases across Southeast Texas and offer consultations at no cost. Please contact our office today in order to learn more about how we may assist you with your legal situation.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?
- Is Adultery a Crime in Texas?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
- Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?
- Texas Divorce Morality Clause: Be Careful What You Ask For
- The Simplified Process for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas
- Explaining the Contested Divorce Process in Texas
- What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?
- Can I buy a House During My Texas Divorce?