All fifty states offer an option for no-fault divorce. But only seventeen are considered true no-fault divorce states. A no-fault divorce is exactly what it sounds like. It is both parties deciding they no longer want to be married, and agreeing to end the marriage without having to prove that one or both spouses engaged in some conduct that would warrant a divorce. In the remaining 33 states, you can plead for a no-fault divorce, but you can also attempt to get divorce based on various grounds of fault depending on the state.
In Texas, the grounds for a no-fault divorce are that the marriage and living together has become “insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities…that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation”. As you can see this is very vague and open, making it the easiest and most common argument for divorce.
Under the Texas Family Code, there are six fault-based reasons to seek a divorce. They are cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living apart, and confinement in a mental hospital. These grounds are listed under sections 6.002 through 6.007.
The language in the sections regarding cruel treatment and adultery is fairly open. They simply state that “the court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment…” and “the court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse has committed adultery”. This is intentional as it allows the facts of the case to be laid out before the Court so that the judge or jury can make the appropriate decision.
The other grounds in the family code require that a certain amount of time be met before the Court can grant a divorce. In order to receive a divorce in your favor based on conviction of a felony, the other spouse must have been convicted of a felony, be imprisoned for at least one year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a federal penitentiary, or the penitentiary of another state, and has not been pardoned. To have a divorce granted on abandonment, the other spouse must leave with the intention of abandonment and remained away for at least one year. For living apart, the spouses must have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years. And confinement in a mental hospital requires that the other spouse has been confined in a state mental hospital or private mental hospital for at least three years and it is likely that the mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or a relapse is probable.
How you chose to file for divorce will be based on the individual facts of your case. The importance of these six fault-based grounds is that each one can be used by your attorney to argue why you deserve more than half in the divorce.