“That’s grounds for divorce!” is a phrase most Americans are familiar with—whether it’s stated as a serious accusation or tossed out in jest. Yet, few people really know what grounds for divorce means or how it might affect their divorce settlement. Wondering how grounds for divorce might affect your Texas divorce? Here are four important things to consider.
1). Texas is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce.
The state of Texas doesn’t believe you should be punished just because you want to get divorced—whether that’s via attorney’s fees or division of your estate. That’s the definition of a no-fault divorce state in its purest form.
It also means that if one party wants the divorce and the other one doesn’t, the party that doesn’t want the divorce won’t automatically get the lion’s share of the community estate, or any unequal division for that matter. Fault comes in when the judge is trying to figure out whether there is an unequal division.
2). There are seven grounds for divorce in Texas.
These include both no-fault grounds and fault grounds. Again, if you want to get a divorce in Texas, you don’t need to prove who was at fault. The three no-fault grounds the court may consider during a Texas divorce case include:
- Insupportability. This ground is often referred to as irreconcilable difference in other states. It is the most common ground people base their decision to divorce on in Texas.
- Living apart. If you and your spouse haven’t lived together for three years or more when you go to trial, that could be considered grounds for divorce in Texas.
- Confinement to a mental hospital. If your spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for three years or more, and the physician believes the mental disorder is unlikely to improve or your spouse is likely to relapse, that could be grounds for divorce.
There are also four fault grounds for divorce in Texas. These include:
- Cruelty. According to the Texas Family Code, the court may grant a divorce on the grounds of cruelty if one “spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable.” Cruelty is open for interpretation by design because it depends on the unique circumstances of the individuals getting divorced.
- Adultery. If the court finds your spouse has committed adultery the judge can grant a divorce based on those grounds.
- Conviction of a felony. If your spouse has been convicted of a felony and has served a year or more in prison—and they haven’t been pardoned—the judge may grant the divorce based on conviction of a felony grounds.
- Abandonment. If the court finds your spouse left you, intending not to return, and you have lived apart for a year or more, you may be granted a divorce on grounds of abandonment.
3). Fault grounds may affect your divorce settlement in Texas.
But it often doesn’t make sense to waste time and money trying to prove fault grounds, especially if there are minimal or no assets at stake. If you’re not going to get anything out of proving fault, don’t obsess over it. At the Sisemore Law Firm, that’s something we closely assess from a risk standpoint when we analyze a client’s case.
Of course, there are situations where fault can play a role in one party being awarded a larger portion of the community estate.
For example, say your wife is the breadwinner, and she has an affair. In that scenario, you have an unequal division because of earning capacity and the affair. If you’re in a situation like that, the judge may allow the division of the estate to swing four or five percent in your favor.
At our Fort Worth law firm, we also see many cases where a client’s spouse commits adultery and also spends money from the community estate on a lover. In those cases, we’ll file a wasting claim to go after that money for our client. That also cracks the door open to look at the different facets of the earning capacity and the faults of the break-up of a marriage. At that point, the needle may start to sway one way or the other, as far as the division of property is concerned.
4). If you file for divorce in Texas, the state has jurisdiction over your case.
What this means is that your case will be decided based on Texas divorce laws, not the laws of a different state. You won’t have to prove fault but your community estate will be subject to a just and right division should you decide to divorce.
Unlike some states, Texas is a community property state, and any property you and your spouse accumulate from the date of marriage until the date of divorce will be subject to division. This includes assets you’ve accumulated outside of the state of Texas. Again, fault grounds may have an impact on the portion of the estate you receive. Your divorce attorney can provide further clarification on fault grounds and how they apply to your specific case.
Have questions about divorce in Tarrant County?
The experienced divorce attorneys at the Sisemore Law Firm are here to help. To schedule a confidential and comprehensive case review with our founder Justin Sisemore, contact our Fort Worth Law firm today. You can reach us by phone at 817.336.4444 or visit our contact page to connect with us online.
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