In Texas, married couples can divorce based on no-fault of either spouse. Section 6.001 of the Texas Family Code states:
“On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault 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.”
The no-fault provision may no longer be an option beginning September 1, 2017. House Bill 93 (HB93) is slowly making its way through the legislature. The aim of HB93 is to repeal the no-fault provision leaving married couples with few alternatives to an amicable divorce. In the 1970s several states including Texas passed no-fault provisions allowing couples to divorce without having to state who was at fault for the demise of the marriage. If HB93 is passed, married couples will still have the option to divorce however, the options available in the Texas Family Code leave little room for no-fault. Most of the options in the Texas Family Code are self-explanatory whereas some require more explanation regarding proof of the alleged offense.
Under the Texas Family Code, the remaining options available are:
1. Cruelty. Cruelty can include physical attacks, continuous anger and yelling at the spouse and even flaunting an affair.
2. Adultery. Adultery in Texas requires some sort of proof that the spouse had consensual sexual intercourse with someone other than the spouse.
3. Conviction of Felony. Married couples whose spouse has never been convicted of a felony will not be able to utilize this option in a divorce. Even if a spouse has a conviction of a felony that spouse must have been imprisoned for at least one year and not have a pardon.
4. Abandonment. Married couples who are still living together when the divorce is filed will not be able to use this option in a divorce. If one spouse has left the marital residence the time period must be at least one year with the intention of abandoning the marriage.
5. Living Apart. Living Apart for three years is the least confrontational of the options in the Texas Family Code if the no-fault provision is repealed. Married couples who want to move on in their life may not want to wait three years before divorcing.
6. Confinement in Mental Hospital. Confinement of a spouse in a mental hospital must be three years as well as have other conditions to satisfy this option for a divorce.
As you can see, the options for divorce without a no-fault provision are very limited in Texas. Divorcing couples will be left with options that may not be viable in terms of settlement through amicable terms. The passage of HB93 can have long lasting implications when it comes to family law in general. The author of HB93 has also filed a separate bill just in case HB93 fails. House Bill 65 (HB65) proposes to prevent the grant of a divorce for insupportability until the 180th day mark instead of the current 60-day mark. This increase would only be applicable for potential divorcing couples that have children under the age of 18 or still in high school living at home.
The Family Law attorneys at the Brandy Austin Law Firm stay committed to keeping up-to-date with all matters concerning family law, including potential changes that can affect family law. If you need assistance and/or a free 30-miunte consultation, please contact us.