- What are the grounds for divorce?
- What do you need to prove before filing?
- Alternate options to divorce in Texas
A marriage is a legal contract between two people. When the marriage ends, both parties must tell the court why they’re breaking their contractual agreement. The reason is called grounds.
You’re not required to prove specific grounds in Texas. In a no-fault divorce, you could use general grounds (called insupportability) as your reason and move on. You both must agree to this kind of split.
But if you want a divorce and your partner does not, you must prove that person did something wrong that ended your relationship. In a fault divorce, your grounds are very specific.
What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?
Texas laws recognize seven different grounds for divorce. Understanding what they are and how they work is critical.
These are the seven types of grounds for divorce in Texas:
Cite these grounds, and you're notifying the court that one spouse left the other with the intention of never returning. The split must have happened at least a year before you file for divorce.
Cite these grounds, and you're notifying the court that one party started a relationship with someone else, and that betrayal makes your reconciliation impossible.
If one spouse is responsible for the cruel treatment of the other, you can cite these grounds for divorce. The laws don't specify what is and what is not cruel. But physical, sexual, or verbal abuse could certainly qualify as cruelty.
4. Felony conviction
If one spouse is convicted of a felony and has been imprisoned for at least 12 months, and that person hasn't been pardoned, the remaining spouse can cite a felony conviction as grounds.
This type of grounds is available for people who wish for a no-fault divorce. In essence, neither party admits to any kind of wrongdoing. Instead, they both say the marriage can't be fixed and supported.
6. Psychiatric hospital confinement
If one spouse has been in a mental hospital for a minimum of three years for a condition that isn't likely to improve, the other can cite these grounds for divorce.
7. Separate primary residences
If the spouses have lived in different homes for at least three years with no break, these grounds can be cited in divorce paperwork.
What you need to prove before filing for divorce in Texas
You’re not required to prove that someone is wrong before you get a divorce. But you’re asked to notify the Texas courts of your grounds for divorce when you file.
While you’re not required to prove fault when you file for divorce, you will be asked for proof when your case goes before a judge. Choose your grounds carefully, and make sure you can prove anything you cite.
If you cite something that is difficult to prove, this can complicate things down the road. But if you originally cite something that is tough to prove, a judge could still grant your divorce on other grounds, such as insupportability.
Alternate options to divorce in Texas
You're not required to file for divorce to end your marriage in Texas. You could file for an annulment instead.
An annulment may be appropriate in the following cases:
- One spouse was younger than 18 years old when the marriage happened.
- One spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they got married.
- One spouse is impotent (permanently).
- One spouse got married due to fraud, force, or pressure.
- One spouse didn't have the mental capacity to agree to the marriage.
- One spouse didn't tell the other about a prior divorce.
- The marriage happened less than 72 hours after the people got a marriage license.
You can file for an annulment at the courthouse in your Texas county.
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ReferencesFamily Code, Chapter 6, Subchapter A: Grounds for Divorce and Defenses. (April 2017). State of Texas.
Original Petition for Divorce. (September 2021). TexasLawHelp.org.
Divorce in Texas. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.
Annulling a Marriage in Texas. (January 2021). TexasLawHelp.org.