No-fault divorce is a divorce proceeding that does not require either party to prove fault or wrongdoing. Unlike traditional fault-based divorces, where one spouse must prove the other’s wrongdoing, a no-fault divorce allows couples to terminate their marriage simply because they believe the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Grounds for No-Fault Divorce in Texas
In Texas, no-fault divorce is governed by the Family Code, which provides a framework for couples to dissolve their marriage without establishing grounds such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or felony conviction, which are required in fault-based divorces.
Instead, under Texas law, the only ground necessary for a no-fault divorce is that the marriage has broken down due to discord or personality conflicts that prevent any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Relevant Law: Texas Family Code Title 1 Sec. 6.001.
No-Fault Divorce Process in Texas
The process of obtaining a no-fault divorce in Texas generally involves several key steps.
To file for divorce in Texas, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
Petition for Divorce
The spouse seeking the divorce (the petitioner) must file a petition for divorce with the appropriate district court in the county where either spouse resides. The petition outlines the grounds for divorce, along with requests for issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
Service of Process
After filing the petition, the petitioner must ensure that the other spouse (the respondent) is served with a copy of the petition and a summons, informing them of the divorce action and their right to respond.
In Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days from the date the petition is filed before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period is intended to provide spouses with an opportunity to reconcile if they choose to do so.
Negotiation or Mediation
During the waiting period, spouses may engage in negotiations or mediation to resolve any contested issues such as child custody, property division, and financial support. If they reach agreements on these matters, they can submit a written settlement agreement to the court for approval.
Finalizing the Divorce
If the spouses are unable to reach agreements on all issues, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge will make decisions on unresolved matters based on evidence presented by both parties. Once all issues are resolved either through settlement or trial, the court will issue a final decree of divorce, officially ending the marriage.
It’s important to note that while no-fault divorce simplifies the process of ending a marriage by eliminating the need to prove fault or wrongdoing, it does not necessarily mean that divorces are always uncontested or amicable. Disputes over issues such as child custody, support, and property division can still arise and require resolution through negotiation, mediation, or litigation.
No-fault divorce in Texas allows couples to dissolve their marriage without assigning blame or fault to either party. The grounds for no-fault divorce in Texas are that the marriage has become insupportable due to irreconcilable differences between the spouses. The process of obtaining a no-fault divorce involves filing a petition, serving the other spouse, waiting for a mandatory period, negotiating or mediating any contested issues, and obtaining a final decree of divorce from the court.