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Do you have grounds for Divorce?

Preparing for divorce means that you need to consider what the basis of your divorce will be. For example, if you have some specific reason why you are requesting the divorce then you can specify those grounds for divorce in your original petition for divorce. There are specific reasons why you may want to file for divorce which is also covered in the Texas family code. For you, to utilized one of these grounds for divorce you would need to be able to prove the existence of certain conditions by producing evidence.

However, it is not required of you to specify any certain ground for divorce when you are moving forward with a petition. Decades ago Texas did away with the requirement to specify grounds for divorce. Rather, all you have to do to obtain a divorce in Texas is to meet the residency requirements, pay the filing fees and file for divorce in a county that has jurisdiction over your case. The vast majority of divorces in Texas are known as no-fault divorces. No-fault divorces do not require you to specify a particular Fault ground and only require that you state you are seeking a divorce due to irreconcilable differences and conflicts in your personality.

If you can meet those requirements and you can get a divorce in Texas. The basic requirements of the case are that simple. However, as with anything else, a standard divorce is anything but. There are always unforeseen circumstances, issues, conflicts of personalities, and other developments that can disrupt or display or delay your case. However, you don't need to specify fault grounds to get divorced in Texas. All you need to do is follow the road map to getting divorced and pay attention to the details. You can get your divorce by doing so but that doesn't mean you'll get everything you want in a property division split or in dividing up your community estate.

If you do want to specify specific fault grounds for divorce, then you can do so by providing evidence and proving the specific fault ground that you are asserting in your petition for divorce. With that being said, it is more complicated to specify a specific fault ground for divorce rather than two attempts to obtain a divorce based on no-fault standards. At this point, you may be asking yourself why it is beneficial to even try to prove particular grounds for divorce if you do not need to do so. Why go through all the extra work if you do not need to To accomplish your ultimate goals in the case?

The main reason why you would want to specify specific fault grounds for divorce is due to there being a benefit for you in terms of dividing your community estate or in obtaining possession rights or conservatorships rights over your children. these are areas of your divorce that can be impacted by fault grounds if proven successful. reading how these areas of your case can be impacted by particular fault grounds is an important step of the process is something we should go over before we talk about the specific fault grounds available to you in Texas. 

How fault grounds can impact the division of Community property

Texas is a Community property state. This means that all property that is classified as Community property will be divided in your divorce. The key to this discussion is determining how the property will be divided and to what extent you will be able to keep as much of your Community property as possible. Certainly, circumstances and facts from your case will play a role in determining how property is divided. This is true whether the property is divided by you and your spouse and mediation or by a family court judge in a trial. The factors of your case will play a role in how you and your go parent negotiate with one another. 

Negative circumstances in fault grounds that go against you will impact how property is divided. when it comes to dividing property a court typically will divide property in a fairly even and equitable fashion absent other circumstances. however, a fault ground for divorce certainly presents reason enough for a judge to award property that is not directly down the middle period rather, those fault grounds could be used to either provide you with more property or less depending upon how favorably or unfavorably they make you look. As we get into a discussion on the particular fault grounds that can be utilized in a Texas divorce this will become abundantly clear.

When it comes to fault grounds and issues related to your children then being able to prove fault grounds against your spouse can be advantageous in several ways. When it comes to conservatorships rights over your children we are talking about the ability to make decisions on behalf of your children and the duty to care for your children. If you can call into question your spouse's ability to care for your children or make decisions for them then you are at the advantage when it comes to being named as primary conservator. Along with having superior rights and duties to your children when it comes to conservatorships issues the primary conservator also has the ability in most cases to receive child support payments and have the children live with you primarily.

 being able to make decisions for your children covers being able to spend more time with the kids and having the ability to receive child support fault grounds really can't play a major role in your divorce. You should consider the availability of any fault grounds in a divorce like yours with your attorney. There is nothing wrong with specifying that yours is a no-fault divorce but if fault grounds are available to you then they absolutely should be considered.

What are the fault grounds you can specify in a Texas divorce?

Now that we have walked through the potential benefits to your specifying a fault ground in your petition for divorce we can get into what the actual fault grounds are in Texas that are available to you. Remember, you have to be able to prove a particular ground for divorce. It is not enough for you 2 mention of fault ground in your divorce and then leave it at that. You have to be able to present evidence showing that a particular fault ground exists to receive any benefit for getting a divorce based on fault grounds versus They no-fault divorce.

Cruelty

If your spouse has created circumstances or an atmosphere at home that makes living with him or her in the future impossible then you may be able to specify grounds for divorce based on cruelty. We can think about cruelty in terms of abuse, neglect, or any atmosphere that would make it extremely difficult for you to remain in the home seems to be reason enough to specify fault grounds based on cruelty. Providing evidence like a police report that was filed against your spouse, photographs, and email showing intent to harm you, or social media posts showing the same would seem to be enough to substantiate fault grounds for divorce based on cruelty. 

Insupportability

As we mentioned a moment ago, you can get divorced for no particular reason at all. If you wished to do so then what you would need to do is specify supportability as your reason for getting a divorce. When conflict has put you and your spouse in a position where you are unable to reconcile with that person then supportability would be the stated reason why your divorce is necessary. However, it is not a specific fault ground in a technical sense.

Adultery

When it comes to fault grounds for divorce I think adultery is probably the most well-known. Infidelity, cheating, and adultery are all commonly utilized interchangeably to mean unfaithfulness in marriage. by being unfaithful during the marriage you would be able to prove this particular fault ground. Showing that your spouse engaged in a relationship outside of your marriage, spent money on this person, who is physically involved with another person, or even and somehow involved your children or made your children aware of the cheating would be something that you could bring forward to a judge.

Living apart for an extended period

This is another ground for divorce that isn't a specific fault ground. If you want to get a divorce on a no-fault basis then you could assert that you and your spouse were living separately from one another without cohabitation at least one time during the last three years. A judge can grants you a divorce based on these grounds. For instance, many people ask me whether legal separation is valid in Texas. I will tell them that there is no specific fault ground for divorce based on legal separation due to there not being a formal acknowledgment of separation in Texas. 

This is an interesting circumstance to discuss given that it happens that you may have moved apart from your spouse for many years but just haven’t gotten divorced yet. While it is up to you how to live your life. However, there is potential for unfavorable outcomes when you live apart from your spouse. He or she could take out debt, use your identity without your permission, or do several things that would potentially be harmful to you in the long run. 

Rather than subject yourself to this possibility I would recommend that you move forward with a divorce either on no-fault grounds or based on living apart for an extended period. I can see very little benefit to remaining apart from your spouse while married. If you are going to live as if you are divorced you may as well make it legal and remove any liability from their relationship. When you derive no benefit from the relationship and you can only derive liability it is time to end the marriage.

Abandonment

Abandonment sounds very similar to living apart but there is a crucial distinction that we need to make. As opposed to living apart, abandonment truly is a ground for divorce. If you can show a judge that your spouse left you and intended to stay apart and has done so for at least one year then you have the basis for an abandonment contention in your petition for divorce. You can augment an already strong case for abandonment by showing the judge that you are dependent upon your spouse for income and the necessities of life. If your spouse has left you and your children without any resources in place to care for you while he or she was gone then you are in a position to argue abandonment as a fault ground for divorce.

Felony conviction

Hopefully, this is not going to be a relevant factor in your situation but since it is contained in the statutes on grounds for divorce we need to mention it. if there is a current conviction of a felony that resulted in your spouse being sent to prison then you can argue this as a fault ground for divorce in Texas. First, you must be able to show that your spouse has been convicted of any felony offense under the Texas Penal Code. As a result of being convicted on that felony offense, he or she must have served at least one year in prison without a pardon from a judge. Bear in mind, however, that if you filed the divorce petition but gave testimony leading to the conviction of your spouse then you cannot specify this as a ground for divorce.

Psychiatric hospital confinement

Another less commonly cited ground for divorce but one that is still legal is to specify that you are filing for divorce because your spouse has been confined in a psychiatric hospital. This is not the same as telling a court that your spouse was confined in a psychiatric hospital for the weekend or on a drug or alcohol counseling basis. Rather, this ground for divorce supposes that your spouse would be confined in the hospital for an extended. With no hope for recovery such that he or she may rejoin you in the outside world.

Documentation from counselors, therapists, mental health doctors, the facility where he or she has interned or something similar would need to be presented with your original divorce petition. There is a fair bit of planning to assert this ground for divorce. A court may even request that an independent medical examiner perform a study or analysis on your spouse to determine whether or not this ground for divorce is appropriate. When the court becomes involved to this point it is wise to have the advice of an experienced family law attorney guiding you.

Final thoughts on grounds for divorce in Texas 

As we talked about at the beginning of this blog post it is possible to get a divorce in Texas based on specifying no-fault ground in particular. This is the most routine way to get divorced these days. Long gone are the days where you needed to specify one of these false grounds and then present evidence to support those quote grounds in court period now, simply stating that you all are living apart for an extended period or that you simply have no hope of reconciliation in the relationship is enough to justify filing a divorce.

With this, when you do present fault grounds to a judge in a divorce petition you need to be sure that you have the evidence to back up those assertions. You do not want to be in a position where you are unable to present sufficient evidence to justify a fault ground. You leave yourself in a position where you are spouse could become frustrated or angered that you are trying to do something to gain an unfair advantage in the case even if you had justifiable ambitions in filing your fault ground.

There are methods and best practices to be implemented when you file for divorce and trying to specify specific fault grounds. With that said, the best advice that I can give you is to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your circumstances to learn more about the process and develop a plan for filing your case. What you want is to be able to file your divorce and hit the ground running. Working with an experienced family law attorney can allow you to do just that.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how are your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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