For most individuals contemplating divorce, the first question they’ll consider is whether or not they are capable of filing one. Divorces are not easily allowed in Texas, and courts will generally require divorcees to have a valid claim.
To prove the validity of your claim, couples will have to show reasonable grounds in order for a court to grant a divorce. The Texas Family Code has established seven grounds for divorce, which are categorized into fault or no-fault divorces. The type of grounds and divorce you undergo can affect the division of property and assets, spousal maintenance, and other aspects of the high net worth divorce outcome.
What is the Difference Between No-Fault & Fault Divorces?
A no-fault divorce essentially means that neither party is to blame for the divorce, and that there is a mutual understanding that the marriage is over and neither party wants to reconcile. No-fault divorces are generally less time consuming and less expensive.
Fault-based divorces, on the other hand, mean that a marital situation is no longer sustainable because one of the spouses has made the divorce justifiable. However, in order for a court to accept a “fault divorce,” you will have to prove that the other party did something wrong and is at-fault. This form of divorce requires sufficient proof in order for the judge to grant your Original Petition for Divorce.
As previously stated, the classification of your divorce (i.e. no-fault or fault) may determine the outcome of your case. For instance, if a spouse can prove adultery, then the judge may grant the victim a greater percentage of marital assets. Generally, no-fault divorces are much more likely to resolve with a 50/50 split of assets.
What are Fault Grounds for Divorce in Houston, Texas?
There are four forms of grounds for fault divorces in Texas:
In Texas divorces, grounds of cruelty are defined as a spouse being treated in a cruel manner that renders the marriage unendurable. Because the definition of cruelty is vague and open to interpretation, these particular grounds can be determined on a case-to-case basis.
Considerations of cruelty will generally include the behavior to be purposeful, persistent, and of a mental or physical kind. However, one incidence of severe cruelty – such as physical harm – can support cruelty grounds. An unsuccessful attempt to reconcile does not bar the use of cruelty as grounds for divorce.
One of the most straightforward grounds, if a spouse can prove that the other spouse was engaged in extramarital affairs, then you will generally be granted a divorce in Texas.
It should be noted that acts of adultery that take place AFTER a divorce petition is filed can be used to support a fault-based judgment against the offending party. When in the process of getting divorced, it is best for both parties to not get involved in another relationship until the entire matter has been resolved. Otherwise, the division of assets could be affected, and one party may receive a larger portion of assets as a result.
3. Conviction of a Felony
A standing conviction of a felony along with a prison sentence is an accepted grounds for divorce in Houston. The spouse seeking divorce in this scenario will need to prove that the offending spouse was convicted of a felony offense, has been imprisoned for at least one (1) year, and has not been pardoned.
However, if the spouse filing the petition provided testimony that led to the conviction, then this form of grounds will not be permissible.
Individuals may file grounds of abandonment if their spouse physically and voluntarily abandoned them for at least one year and has shown no intention of returning to the marital home.
If the petitioning spouse was the individual who moved out and stayed away, then they will generally not be able to make a claim of abandonment.
What are No-Fault Grounds of Divorce in Texas?
No-fault divorces do not require petitioning parties to prove that the other party has done something wrong. While the party requesting a divorce does not have to show fault, they must provide valid reasoning as to why the court should grant the divorce.
No-fault grounds for divorce in Houston include:
Commonly referred to as irreconcilable differences, insupportability means that the marriage has come to an end because of a conflict of personalities that has rendered the expectation of reconciliation impossible.
This is one of the most common grounds to file under in Texas, especially because divorce records may become public and accessible. Under insupportability, little if any of the specifics of the divorce become available.
2. Living Apart
Spouses who live apart for prolonged periods of time during their marriage may file under grounds of living apart. Whether the situation arises because of employment or some other personal situation, spouses who have been living apart for at least three (3) years can cite this as grounds for a no-fault divorce.
Please note that these years of living apart must be continuous.
3. Confinement in a Psychiatric Hospital
When one of the spouses has been confined to a psychiatric hospital and shows little likelihood of recovering, then a court may grant a divorce based on these grounds.
The party confined in the hospital must have been so for a minimum of three years.
Additionally, the individual confined still has a right to marital assets, and the court will generally appoint a guardian who can represent that spouse’s interests in the divorce.
Houston Divorce Attorneys Here to Help You Keep What’s Yours
If you find yourself considering divorce but are unsure if you have a legitimate claim to petition a court for one, the Law Offices of Douglas Ray York, P.C., can support you.
Our respected and experienced legal team is committed to fighting on your behalf to protect everything you’ve worked hard for.