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Abandonment as grounds for divorce in Texas

The majority of divorces in Texas each year are known as "No-Fault" Divorces. This means that the parties could no longer get along in the marriage and say no chance at reconciliation or getting back together. As a result, one of the spouses files the divorce paperwork and begins legally ending the marriage relationship. It's certainly not an ideal situation for anyone to go through, but many of these divorces are amicable, and their facts mirror many other divorces.

Every once in a while, there are divorces based on what is known as "fault grounds." These are legally recognized reasons as to why the Divorce has been filed. Infidelity/adultery is common among these fault grounds for when your spouse has been unfaithful to you, and your intention is to make that an issue in your Divorce. When most people consider a fault in the breakup of a marriage, infidelity/adultery is at the top of the list.

A less common, but no less critical, fault ground for Divorce in Texas is abandonment. If you're reading this blog post and have not seen or heard from your spouse in some time, then the information you are about to read maybe the most important thing you've read in years. Let's discuss the topic of abandonment and how it can impact a divorce should you decide to file.

Abandonment explained

If you are reading this blog and have children, a home, and responsibilities you are tending to without your spouse, you should know that you do have places to turn in this situation. Here you are by yourself, attempting to raise a family and manage a household all by yourself with no assistance from your spouse. Your frustration levels are mounting by the day, and at times, it can seem like there is no way out. What can you do?

Let's define the term abandonment so you can see what the legal definition of the word is. Abandonment is when a person deserts their spouse to end the marriage due to that desertion. As a result of this desertion, not only are you having to take on the household finances as an individual, but you have to raise children (if you have any) as a single adult. How does the abandonment affect a court's decisions regarding conservatorship of your child?

Conservatorship of your child in an abandonment divorce case

If your spouse thought it was a good idea to abandon you and your family, you can bet that a judge would not be too happy with your spouse's decision. Not only does it put you in a bind financially, but it limits your spouse's ability to parent your children and contribute to their well-being- both financially and emotionally.

To the emotional end, parenting responsibilities fall squarely on your shoulders. You are in a challenging position through no fault of your own and due entirely to the immature decision made by your spouse.

As a result, your judge would likely not consider awarding your spouse anything close to a typical, standard possession order type possession schedule. The reason is that the judge cannot trust them to moderate his behavior and act as a parent should in terms of the well-being and discipline of his children.

The default presumption of family law courts in Texas is that it is in the best interest of your children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Still, that presumption can be rebutted with sufficient evidence. Your spouse abandoning you and your family cedes ground to you in this area, making it unlikely they would have anything but extremely limited (possibly supervised) visitation and possession with your children.

The conservatorship has more to do with rights and duties to your children than it does time and possession of them. If your spouse has abandoned their family, it would be tough to argue that this same person would be willing and able to provide the sort of stability that is in their best interests. Consider the emotional and physical needs of your child. Who do you think a judge would believe could provide better in those areas- you or your spouse who skirted all responsibility in abandoning you?

You would likely be able to argue for and be awarded the sole right to make decisions about educational, psychiatric, and medical needs for your children in your Divorce.

While this may not strike you as overly necessary at first compared to visitation and possession, the right to make these decisions will have as lasting an impact on your children as the time aspect of parenting, in my experience. Where your child attends school, the classes they take, the counseling they receive, and on and on are what this means to you and your family.

Abandonment and Divorce explained.

One of the main reasons you do not see many divorces granted in Texas-based upon fault grounds is that the circumstances leading to a court agreeing to one are minimal. As we stated earlier in this blog post, most divorces in Texas are no-fault.

To successfully argue that your spouse had abandoned you and thus caused you to have to file for Divorce, you must be able to show that your spouse has been absent for one year or more. Additionally, suppose you cannot show a judge that the abandonment was initiated to force you into caring for yourself. In that case, the court will not accept the abandonment allegations.

Dividing up the marital estate in a divorce based on abandonment

As you probably know, Texas is a community property state. This means that (with some exceptions) any income or property that you or your spouse come into during the marriage is considered jointly owned by both of you. If a divorce follows, that property will have to be divided just and adequately by the judge. And right typically means something close to 50/50 between you and your spouse.

The abandonment issue can be a factor that leads a judge to award a disproportionate (unequal) share of the community property estate to you. The reason is that your spouse's bad behavior in abandoning you and your family can help tip the scales in the judge's mind toward you and away from your spouse. You have lost your spouse's income to provide for yourself, and awarding "extra" property to you would help even up the score.

Spousal maintenance and abandonment in Texas

Judges in Texas, under most circumstances, are not quick to award spousal maintenance upon the conclusion of a divorce. If you ask for temporary spousal support, this is more likely to be awarded though you need to show that you cannot provide for yourself and any children in your care based on your income to have it awarded to you.

At most, twenty percent of your spouse's monthly net income can be captured for spousal maintenance purposes. There are limits to how long spousal support can be awarded to you, typically lasting no longer than two years from the day of your Divorce.

Questions on abandonment in Texas divorces? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you have questions about the subject of abandonment in Texas divorces, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is available to you six days a week where your questions can be addressed and answered.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. When is Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
  2. Frequently Asked Questions About Uncontested and No-Fault Divorce
  3. Dividing Property in a Texas Divorce - The Just and Right Division
  4. Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
  5. What Wikipedia Can't Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
  6. Texas Divorce Property Division Enforcement
  7. Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
  8. Does it Matter Whose Name is on Title or Deed of Property in a Divorce in Texas?
  9. Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce
  10. Business Owners and Business Assets in a Texas Divorce
  11. What to do when your divorce decree does not include a marital asset?
  12. High Net Worth Divorce / High Asset Divorce

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

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

Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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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