Considering divorce in Texas? You’re likely facing a whirlwind of emotions as well as legal questions. One such question you might have is whether you need to prove fault on your spouse’s part, such as adultery, abandonment, or cruel treatment. The answer depends on the type of divorce you pursue: fault-based or no-fault.

Fault-Based vs. No-Fault Divorce in Texas

Texas law allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Fault-Based Divorce: In this type of divorce, you cite a specific reason for the breakdown of the marriage, such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or a felony conviction by your spouse. If the court finds your spouse at fault, it can impact the final divorce settlement, including property division and spousal support.
  • No-Fault Divorce: This is the more common option in Texas. You simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, without assigning blame to either spouse.

Proving Fault: Adultery, Abandonment, and Cruelty

If you choose a fault-based divorce, be aware that the burden of proof lies with you. Here’s what you need to know about proving the most common fault grounds:

  • Adultery: Texas defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their spouse. Evidence of adultery can include emails, text messages, hotel receipts, or witness testimony.
  • Abandonment: This occurs when a spouse leaves the marriage without legal justification and intends to permanently end the marital relationship. Establishing abandonment requires proof of both the physical separation and the intent to abandon. The spouse must remain away for a period of at least one year.
  • Cruelty: Texas law recognizes “cruel treatment” as grounds for divorce, but it doesn’t have a strict definition. Generally, it refers to behaviors that make living together unbearable. This could include physical violence, threats, constant humiliation, or extreme emotional abuse. Documenting instances of cruelty with dates, details, and any potential witnesses is crucial.
  • Convection of a Felony: The other spouse must be convicted of a felony and be imprisoned for at least one year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a Federal Penitentiary, and must not have been pardoned.

Impact of Proving Fault on Your Divorce Settlement

While Texas is a community property state, meaning most assets and debts acquired during the marriage are divided equally, proving fault can influence the judge’s decision in several ways:

  • Property Division: The court may award a larger share of marital property to the innocent spouse as compensation for the other spouse’s wrongdoing.
  • Spousal Support: If you can prove fault, and you otherwise qualify,  you’re more likely to receive spousal support and for a longer duration.

It’s important to remember that proving fault isn’t always easy and can often prolong and complicate the divorce process.

Is a Fault-Based Divorce Right for You?

While the potential benefits of a fault-based divorce exist, it’s not always the best course of action. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Emotional Toll: A fault-based divorce can be emotionally draining, as it often involves dredging up past hurts and airing “dirty laundry” in court.
  • Cost: The additional time and effort required to gather evidence can significantly increase your legal fees.
  • Cooperation: If you and your spouse are amicable and want a smooth and swift divorce, a no-fault option might be preferable.

Considering Your Options? We Can Help

Whether you’re leaning towards a fault-based or no-fault divorce, consulting with an experienced Texas family law attorney is crucial. We can advise you on the best course of action based on your specific circumstances, help gather evidence (if necessary), and guide you through the entire divorce process.

Here at Lundberg Law, we understand the complexities of Texas divorce law and are dedicated to helping our clients navigate this challenging time with compassion and expertise. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your options and chart a clear path forward.

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