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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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What are the legal grounds for divorce in Texas?

Most people have heard the term “irreconcilable differences” as a reason for divorce. Some states refer to this as an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. But, as they say, things are bigger in Texas. Here, a “no-fault” divorce may be granted if:

"The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”

But what if the two spouses haven’t already agreed on the terms for a divorce? Or what if one spouse doesn’t even want a divorce? In Texas, there are several legal “grounds,” or reasons, why you want to end your marriage.  Each of these grounds has specific requirements that must be met to successfully be granted a divorce.

Here are some of the specifics that must be alleged:

Adultery. This one is pretty self-explanatory but again, the allegations must be proven.

Cruelty. This ground could be interpreted in many ways and the statute does not provide a very clear definition, only that the cruelty is “of a nature that renders further living together insupportable”. Each case be decided on its specific circumstances.

Felony conviction. If one spouse has been convicted of a felony, has been incarcerated for at least a year, and has not been pardoned, the other spouse may file for divorce on this ground. However, if the spouse seeking the divorce provided testimony that helped convict the imprisoned spouse, this ground may not be used to support the divorce.

Abandonment. Again, “abandonment” isn’t specifically defined in the statute, but whatever is alleged to be abandonment must have been for at least a year and the spouse who abandoned the other must have had the intent to abandon the marriage.

Living apart: This could also be called “separation” as many couples choose to move into separate residences at some point during their marriage, often in anticipation of divorce. While the definitions of “living apart” and “cohabitation” are vague, the couple must have lived apart for at least three years.

Confinement in mental hospital: If a spouse has been in a mental facility for at least three years and permanent recovery is unlikely, the other spouse can be granted a divorce.

If you are contemplating divorce, contested or not, the vague language in the law can best be interpreted by an attorney with experience handling divorces in Texas.

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