Grounds for Divorce in Texas

What are Grounds for Divorce?

What does it mean when someone talks about the “grounds for a divorce?” Simply put, the “grounds“ for the divorce means the reason someone is asking for the divorce. When you file documents (a petition) for a divorce in Texas, you must state a reason for the divorce as accepted by the state. There are several fault-based grounds for divorce accepted in Texas, though certain requirements are entailed to allege those fault grounds.

Here you will find a list of these grounds and a short explanation of the provisions needed for the court to accept them.

Cruelty: If a spouse is guilty of cruel treatment that renders further living together insupportable, the court may grant a divorce in favor of the complaining spouse. [1]

Adultery: The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other has committed adultery. Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than their spouse, and it is not limited to actions committed before the parties separated. [2] See my previous blog on adultery for more information.

Conviction of Felony: This ground for divorce is valid if these three parameters are met: if during the marriage, the other spouse:

  • 1. Has been convicted of a felony,
  • 2. Has been imprisoned for at least one year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a federal penitentiary, or the penitentiary of another state, and
  • 3. Has not been pardoned.

This section does not apply against a spouse who was convicted on the testimony of the other spouse. [3]

Abandonment: A divorce may be granted in favor of an abandoned spouse if the other spouse left with the intention of abandonment AND remained away for at least one year. [4]

Living Apart: If both spouses have lived apart for at least three years, the court may grant a divorce. [5]

Confinement in Mental Hospital: For this ground to be valid and a divorce granted in favor of a spouse, two conditions must be met at the time the suit is filed:

  • 1. The other spouse has been confined in a state or private mental hospital in any state for at least three years [6], and
  • 2. It appears that the hospitalized spouse’s mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or that a relapse is probable. [7]

Insupportability: Divorce can be granted without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. This ground for divorce is pled in virtually 100% of all divorce petitions filed in Texas. In addition to this no-fault ground, it is not unusual for additional faults of cruelty or adultery to also be pled. [8]

A divorce is always a tragic event in the lives of the divorcing couple. At one point these two people were in love and for any variety of reasons the marriage is now coming to an end. There is often a great deal of pain and anger over the fact that the marriage is over. Ultimately in establishing the grounds for the divorce, there is a reality that sets in for the couple. That reality can lead to a more acrimonious (and expensive) divorce if the situation is not handled properly by the attorneys in the case.

If you would like any further help or consultation on this or any other legal matter, please feel free to contact me at (940) 202-8323.


[1] Tex. Family Code sec. 6.002[2] In re Marriage of C.A.S & D.P.S.., 405 S.W.3d 373, 383 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2013, no pet.) Tex. Family Code sec. 6.003[3] Tex. Family Code sec. 6.004[4] Tex. Family Code sec. 6.005[5] Tex. Family Code sec. 6.006[6] defined in Section 571.003 of the Health and Safety Code[7] Tex. Family Code sec 6.007[8] Tex. Family Code sec. 6.001
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