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Grounds for a Divorce

In the State of Texas, there are “fault” grounds for a divorce and “no-fault” grounds for a divorce. Most divorces are filed as “no-fault” divorces. But often times, the actions of one spouse may be the cause of the divorce. The purpose of this article is to describe the various grounds for divorce in Texas.

At the beginning of a divorce proceeding, the spouse who is initiating the divorce must file an Original Petition for Divorce. The Original Petition for Divorce is a document that is filed with the court which advises the court that a spouse is seeking a divorce. The petition includes, among other things, the grounds or reasons for the divorce. There are seven reasons for getting a divorce in Texas:

1. Insupportability (no-fault divorce)

2. Cruelty

3. Adultery

4. Felony Conviction

5. Abandonment

6. Living Apart

7. Confinement in a Mental Hospital

No-Fault Divorce: Getting a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean that one party is more at fault than the other. Sometimes things just don’t work out and both sides agree to legally end their marriage. When this happens, the ground used for divorce is called insupportability.

  • Insupportability Divorcing because of insupportability means the marriage has become insupportable because of disagreements or conflicts of marriage that cannot be resolved and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. When this happens, the court does not put fault on either party but nonetheless grants the divorce. Insupportability is a “no-fault” ground for divorce.

At-Fault DivorceThe other six grounds for a divorce are at-fault grounds for divorce – meaning that there is one party who is more at fault for the divorce. These grounds are cruelty, adultery, conviction of felony, abandonment, living apart, and confinement in a mental hospital.

  • Cruelty The first at-fault ground for divorce is cruelty. The Texas Family Code Section 6.002 says that “the court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable.” Mere disagreements do not amount to cruel treatment. Rather the actions of a spouse must be so severe that the marriage is unendurable, insufferable, and intolerable. Examples of cruel treatment include physical and emotional abuse. Adultery may also be a basis for cruel treatment.
  • Adultery You can also divorce because of adultery. The courts may grant a divorce on the ground of adultery if the adulterous acts make it impossible for the two spouses to live together. Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with another person who is not the husband or wife of the offender. Adultery may be a ground for divorce whether it occurred before or after separation.
  • Felony Conviction If you or your spouse has committed a felony or been imprisoned for at least a year, and the felony has not been pardoned, the court may grant a divorce on the ground of a felony conviction. However, it is important to note that Section 6.004 of the Family Code includes that “[t]he court may not grant a divorce under this section against a spouse who was convicted on the testimony of the other spouse.”
  • Abandonment If your spouse has left you – intentionally – and has been gone for more than a year, you have a reason for divorce on the ground of abandonment.
  • Living Apart Similarly, living apart may be ground for divorce if the spouses have lived apart for at least three consecutive years without periods of cohabitation.
  • Confinement in a Mental Hospital If a spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years, and the hospitalized spouse’s mental disorder makes the spouse unable to adjust after being released or relapse is probable even after adjusting, the court may grant a divorce on the ground of confinement in a mental hospital.

If you are considering a divorce, call an attorney. Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant offers experienced divorce attorneys in the Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village area.

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