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Last Updated on March 2024

According to Texas Family Code, spouses can end their marriage based only on one of the seven state-approved grounds. Legal grounds for divorce in Texas are divided into fault and no-fault based depending on the occasion or reason that prompted spouses to seek legal action.

Among the valid reasons for divorce in Texas, 4 are fault-based, and 3 are no-fault-based. Before getting a divorce in Texas, the party initiating the process (the petitioner) must decide whether they would want to blame their spouse (the defendant) for their marriage coming to an end. This decision will influence the legal process and the potential outcomes of the case significantly.

What Are the Seven Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

The grounds for filing for divorce in Texas are the following:

1. Adultery

According to Texas laws, adultery happens when one of the spouses engages in intimate relationships with the person outside of marriage. It should be noted that such a decision must be made voluntarily and with no support or encouragement from the legal partner.

Exchange of sexually explicit photos or messages, as well as emotional affairs, would not be considered adultery. The same goes for kissing and touching. Therefore, it would be necessary to prove that there was physical cheating – intercourse.

A woman looks disapprovingly at a man and a woman walking in front

You may hire a private investigator to get proof of infidelity or find some on your own.

For example, you can provide photos and messages showing that the intercourse happened or bring witnesses to the court.

It is important to note that any party can be accused of adultery even after the petition has been filed. That is why it is advisable not to start a new relationship before the case is finalized.

2. Abandonment for one year or more

Unlike a separation, which is a reason for a no-fault divorce, abandonment presupposes that one spouse had left the other one against the will of the abandoned spouse. The period of abandonment must continue for at least 1 year, and the second party has to show no willingness to return to the household.

It would be crucial to prove that the spouse left with an intention to abandon the other one. This implies that there were no circumstances prompting them to do so temporarily, for instance, due to the job requirements or certain emergencies.

3. Felony convictions

You can use this ground if your spouse was convicted of a felony and imprisoned for at least a year. It is also important that your spouse has not been pardoned and that they were sentenced after you got married. It doesn’t matter if they are serving time in federal or state prison or which state they were convicted in.

However, if you testified against your spouse in a case, you cannot file based on this ground. In this case, it might be helpful to contact a lawyer to see what your options are.

4. Cruel treatment

If your spouse has willfully caused you suffering or pain, whether emotional or physical, you can file on the ground of cruel treatment. This would imply that your spouse made your life so unbearable that it is impossible to maintain a marriage anymore.

Cruelty covers both domestic violence and emotional abuse. However, it is often easier to prove physical abuse as there might be actual records of injuries in medical facilities and police reports. When it comes to mental and emotional mistreatment, any written accounts of such interactions (messages, emails, etc.) as well as witness testimonies might be used as proof.

Your lawyer should provide substantial evidence of continuous cruel treatment for the judge to consider this ground valid. Moreover, even if the offender made an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile, you can still state cruelty as a valid ground.

5. Insupportability

This ground is used when living together has become intolerable for both parties and no reconciliation is possible. You can allege that your marriage is insupportable due to the conflicts, significant differences in views, or other aspects that make you incompatible as partners.

6. Separation

If you have been living separately for more than 3 years and there were no cases of cohabitation, you can be granted a divorce based on the ground of “living apart.” You will have to testify under oath that you have not engaged in intimate relations with your spouse within that time and lived in separate residences.

7. Mental incapacitation

This divorce ground is recognized if your spouse had been admitted to a private or state mental facility for 3 years by the time you have filed for marriage dissolution. Besides, there should be evidence that their condition is so severe that it will not change in the recent future, or they will likely get back into it.

You will have to provide the court with the records from the facility as proof of your claims. Additionally, it might be necessary for specific medical professionals to testify about your spouse’s condition.

Note that a spouse’s confinement doesn’t imply that you will get all your marital property, as the state protects the rights of people who cannot, for some reason, fend for themselves. A court will likely appoint a person to represent your spouse in the case and fight for their rights.

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Fault vs. No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Fault divorce in the state of Texas can be initiated based on adultery, abandonment, incarceration, or cruel treatment. If the petitioner wants to hold their spouse at fault, they need to prove the validity of their claims against their ex. Otherwise, the divorce cannot be recognized as fault-based.

No-fault marriage dissolution in Texas can be filed based on insupportability, separation, and confinement in a mental hospital. These grounds presuppose that you and your spouse do not blame each other for any misconduct but are not willing to reconcile, or your spouse is not in the right state to do it.

Fault Grounds for DivorceNo-Fault Grounds for Divorce
Based on adulteryBased on insupportability
Based on abandonmentBased on separation
Based on incarcerationBased on confinement in a mental hospital
Based on cruel treatmentDoes not require blame or misconduct
Requires proof of claims 
Recognition depends on validity of claims 

Reasons No-Fault Divorce Is Preferred

Grounds for divorce in Texas

Due to its advantages over fault-based divorce in terms of speed, cost, and simplicity, no-fault divorce is currently the most popular choice among couples in the state of Texas. It enables you to decide on the distribution of assets and child custody on your own and to reach an agreement with your spouse if you so want. You are also allowed to file without a lawyer if there are no disputes.

Fault-based cases require the involvement of lawyers, as there are various legal processes that need to be taken care of. Any expert testimonies, witness accounts, discovery, etc., will require both time and money, which means that your divorce may last for over a year and cost you anywhere from $12,000 to $25,000 or more.

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