Grounds for divorce

What are Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

Jad J. Stepp

Jad J. Stepp is the managing shareholder of Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., a Houston-based firm that focuses on probate and elder law matters, as well as estate planning, personal injury, aviation, and maritime litigation. For over 35 years he has been trying lawsuits in both federal and state court and has been the lead trial lawyer in complex litigation in many areas.
Jad J. Stepp

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce in Texas, you should ask yourself whether you’re eligible. In Texas, there are seven grounds for divorce that courts deem acceptable for ending a marriage. For a court to grant a divorce in Texas, you must raise and prove that one of these grounds applies to your marriage.

The Texas Family Code provides these seven grounds for divorce that are detailed below: 

What’s the Difference Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce?

There is a sharp distinction between a contested and uncontested divorce. A contested divorce in Houston means that both spouses are not able to reach an agreement on specific terms of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, and property division. The duration of a contested divorce usually lasts longer than an uncontested divorce due to the extensive litigation that’s often required.

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree entirely to the divorce terms. Uncontested divorces are less costly and take significantly less time than contested divorces. 

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

The seven grounds that are acceptable for a divorce in Texas are as follows: 

Insupportability

This category is a big catch-all ground for divorce in Texas. Also called “irreconcilable differences,” this can mean almost anything, including:

  • Endless arguments
  • Conflicting personalities
  • A lack of mutual interests

In general, this ground for divorce is used by couples who amicably decide to divorce on optimistic and supportive terms.

Living Apart

If one spouse lives apart from the other for three years or more in a row, Texas will grant a divorce based on these grounds. When deciding property division, a Texas court will consider the last three or more years. For example, if one spouse lived in the home while the other had the car, a judge would make those arrangements permanent.

Confinement to a Mental Institution

If one spouse is confined to a mental institution for three years or more and there’s a slim chance of recovery or a high probability of a relapse, Texas will consider this as legal grounds for divorce. In this instance, the court typically assigns a guardian to represent the interests of the incapacitated spouse.

Cruelty

Cruelty encompasses a broad spectrum of conduct that can be physical, emotional, or psychological. It might be a pattern of behavior, like years of disrespect or aggressive behavior that builds up over time. Or, it could be one significant action, like a physical attack. To claim cruelty as grounds for divorce, you must provide some amount of proof.

Abandonment

When one spouse leaves the other voluntarily with no intention of returning, the spouse who was left can claim abandonment as grounds for divorce. To be considered grounds for divorce in Texas, the abandonment must have continued for at least one year.

Adultery

Adultery doesn’t need an explanation. Like other grounds for divorce in Texas, you must provide proof. When divorce proceedings are underway, you’re still considered married. If adultery occurs at any time, even during divorce proceedings, that behavior can be factored into the judge’s final ruling.

Criminal Felony Conviction

The financial stability and fundamental trust of marriage is undermined when a spouse is convicted of a felony. For that reason, the Texas Family Code accepts a felony conviction as grounds for divorce. A Texas court will grant a divorce if your spouse was:

  • Convicted of a criminal felony
  • Imprisoned for one year or more
  • No pardon for their crimes.

If one spouse was convicted based on the testimony of the other, a judge would not grant the divorce on these grounds.

How Our Houston Divorce Attorneys Can Help

No two divorces are the same. That’s why it’s essential for any person filing for divorce in Texas to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney. At Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., we understand that a divorce is a difficult time for anyone. Our divorce lawyers are on your side and explain every step, option, and legal avenue available.

At Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., our Houston attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience in family law. We take a client-focused and results-driven approach to provide detailed advice and help you navigate your divorce action with understanding and confidence. To speak with one of our Houston divorce attorneys over a free consultation, complete an online contact form or call at (713) 336-7200.

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