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Grounds for Divorce

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Seven [Legal] Reasons for Divorce

Not all marriages end in happily ever after. Sometimes, marriages simply end. You and your spouse may have your own motives for wanting to separate, but are you aware of the legal reasons for obtaining a divorce?

There are seven different grounds for divorce - or specific circumstances - under which a divorce may be granted by the court:

  1. Insupportability - This is the legal term for a no-fault divorce. The marriage has become unbearable due to personality conflicts between spouses. Texas is a no-fault state, meaning that if only one spouse wants the divorce, the divorce can be granted.
  2. Cruelty - One spouse is guilty of cruelty that renders further living together impossible.
  3. Adultery - One spouse has been unfaithful.
  4. Conviction of a felony - One spouse has been convicted of a felony AND has been imprisoned for at least one year.
  5. Abandonment - One spouse left the other spouse without the intention to return and stayed away for at least one year.
  6. Living apart - Spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years.
  7. Confinement in a mental hospital - One spouse has been confined in a mental hospital for at least three years AND suffers from a mental disorder with the potential for relapse.

Although both sides usually believe someone is to blame, the top reason cited in divorce cases is insupportability, or without fault. The vast majority of divorces in Tarrant County are granted on insupportability. It is rare to have a divorce granted in Texas with fault grounds, even divorces with settlements and contested trials.

However, if a marriage has dramatically failed, you might seek to obtain a fault-based divorce to gain the upper hand in a custody battle, a property dispute or both. Filing a petition alleging a fault ground sends a clear message to the other spouse that the divorce will be a fight. Hurt feelings, not wanting to share the kids, refusing to sell the house, and other disagreements all play into the blame-game. If one spouse is more at fault in the breakup of the marriage than the other one, the judge might even give the less guilty spouse more of the community property.

Adultery and cruelty are the most common faults when taking score of wrongs. Pleading fault in a contested case can even be used as a tactic to intimidate the other side, letting the soon-to-be-ex know your intention of airing his or her bad behavior. If there is a trial, that behavior will even become public.

Although many factors often contribute to the end of a marriage, divorce is legally granted on one reason, one grounds of divorce. Even if that reason is a fault, in actuality, it is rarely just one spouse's fault. This is a difficult concept for divorcing people to accept. For example, adultery might be a hurtful symptom of a marriage that was going to fail anyway. The adultery was just the catalyst for the filing.

When considering ending your marriage, let Hoppes & Cutrer help guide you to the beginning of a new chapter in your life. 

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