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Is Texas a no-fault divorce state?

Is Texas a no-fault divorce state? Yes, but fault-based divorce is also an option. Read on for everything to know about fault vs. no-fault divorce in TX.

evident Editorial Team
November 20, 2023
Texas state capitol building

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, and understanding the legal system's nuances can make it even more overwhelming. One question that frequently arises is whether Texas is a no-fault divorce state. 

In short, the answer is yes. Texas is a no-fault state for divorce, meaning a spouse does not need to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce.

In Texas, both fault and no-fault divorces are available. Historically, only fault grounds were available, but states (including Texas) have increasingly introduced no-fault grounds for divorce over time.

Key Takeaways

Fault Divorce in Texas

A fault divorce in Texas is a type of divorce where one spouse accuses the other of misconduct or wrongdoing that led to the breakdown of the marriage. Fault grounds for divorce in Texas include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Abandonment

What constitutes cruelty is a little vague in Texas’ divorce laws, but either physical or mental abuse can qualify. The conduct often needs to be willful and ongoing to constitute cruelty, though this is not always necessary.

Adultery, meanwhile, is more straightforward, but note that it could be proved through things such as phone records and restaurant or hotel bills, even if more concrete evidence is not available. Thus, a spouse seeking a fault-based divorce on this ground must have more than a hunch but does not necessarily have to directly catch their spouse. 

For a felony conviction, the spouse must have been imprisoned for at least one year before a fault divorce can be filed. 

To prove abandonment, you must show that your spouse voluntarily left, did not intend to return, and their absence was continuous for at least one year.

To obtain a fault-based divorce, one party must prove the fault ground that is the basis for the divorce and that it led to the breakdown of the marriage. Proving fault can involve presenting evidence in court, such as witness testimony, photographs, or medical records. 

Texas No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce in Texas. A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce where neither spouse has to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. 

There are three no-fault grounds for divorce in Texas:

  • Insupportability
  • Living apart (for at least three years)
  • Confinement in a mental hospital 

Among these three no-fault grounds, insupportability is the most common and simply means that the marriage is no longer working out. (This is the equivalent of "irreconcilable differences" as it is known in other states).

No-fault divorces can simplify the divorce process by removing the need to prove fault or wrongdoing, allowing both parties to end the marriage without placing blame. This can also lead to a more amicable divorce and reduce stress for both parties.

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce 

Keep in mind that the difference between a no-fault divorce in Texas and a fault-based divorce is separate from the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce. 

Whether a divorce is a fault or no-fault divorce in Texas refers to the grounds for the divorce. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, though, refers to whether you and your spouse agree on all aspects of the divorce, such as property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support. And if you do, you and your spouse can submit a divorce settlement to the court for the judge's review and approval.

Thus, a Texas no-fault divorce could be contested or uncontested, depending on whether you and your spouse agree on all the details. And if you disagree about a single issue–for instance, you agree about alimony and property division but not the child custody arrangement–then it will be a contested divorce.  

So remember, not all no-fault divorces are created equal. And for that matter, not all contested divorces are the same – the number of issues you and your spouse disagree about and how contentious those issues are can have a meaningful impact on how lengthy, expensive, and combative your divorce process will be.

The Impact of Filing for Fault vs No-fault Divorce in Texas 

Proving fault in a Texas divorce can have significant consequences for the division of property, spousal maintenance, and child custody.

In short, if you can prove fault, the court would be more likely to award you custody of children or  a greater share of community property when evaluating the “just and right” division of property.

Property Division in a Texas Divorce

Toy house and keys, property division

Texas is a community property state. This means that any property or assets acquired during the marriage are considered jointly owned by both spouses–i.e., community property–regardless of who purchased them. 

During divorce proceedings, the court will divide community property equitably between the spouses. (Note that although Texas is a community property state, equitable division means that property will be divided fairly, and not necessarily equally). 

Each spouse also keeps their separate property, including property owned before the marriage, inheritances, or gifts given specifically to one spouse.

But again, a court may consider fault when deciding what is an equitable division of property, so successfully filing a fault divorce in Texas can impact this distribution.

Advantages of No-Fault Divorce in Texas

One significant advantage of no-fault divorce in Texas is that it can simplify the divorce process. Without the need to prove fault or wrongdoing, the divorce proceedings can focus on practical matters like property division and child custody.

This can drastically reduce the amount of conflict and animosity that can arise during divorce proceedings, which in turn can reduce the time and money it takes to get divorced. And anything that makes the process go more smoothly can have a positive impact on your children (if you have any) or on maintaining amicable relations with your ex-spouse both during and after the divorce process.

But as discussed, a wronged party can receive a larger portion of the marital estate or a more favorable alimony award if they can prove the other spouse cheated or subjected them to cruel treatment.

The Final Word on No-Fault Divorce in Texas

So, is Texas a no-fault state for divorce? Yes, which means that spouses do not have to prove fault grounds to obtain a divorce.

Fault-based divorce is available as well, though. And of the seven grounds for divorce in Texas, four are fault-based grounds for divorce.

Filing for a fault-based divorce could impact things such as your share of the marital estate, alimony, or child custody. But it may also result in a longer and more expensive divorce process.

No-fault divorce, meanwhile, is by far the more common type of Texas divorce. If you have questions about your legal options, it may be worth speaking with a divorce attorney to discuss the best path forward for you.