No-fault divorce allows a couple to divorce without proving that one of the spouses did anything wrong to break up the marriage. Critics of no-fault divorce claim that it is easier to get a divorce than it is to marry. They also say that more couples should try harder to resolve their issues—eliminating no-fault divorce would be a way to force them to do that.
There is a bill currently winding its way through the Texas legislature that proposes to end no-fault divorce in Texas. Here is a summary of the effects this bill will have on Texas divorces and families if it becomes law.
What Does the Current Divorce Law Do?
Supporters of the current no-fault system say that it saves couples precious time and expense. It also reduces the huge emotional toll both spouses face while going through a divorce.
Additionally, many fear that making it harder to leave a marriage will adversely affect spouses in domestic violence situations. If an abuse victim can’t prove the abuse, or if abuse no longer fits within one of the causes for divorce in the new law, then that abuse victim will be trapped in a dangerous marriage.
What Are the Collateral Effects?
Many people also worry about the effects this law will have on children and other family members. If spouses must prove fault, everyone will be exposed to potentially nasty things the parents may say about each other in public.
At-fault divorce makes it almost impossible for divorced parents to cooperate on anything going forward, including effective co-parenting.
The Consequences of the Proposal to End No-Fault Divorce
If the bill passes as it stands now, one spouse would have to prove one of the following grounds before being able to divorce:
- Confinement in a “mental hospital”
- Living apart for more than three years
Since first introducing the bill, Representative Krause has made some revisions to it. He notes that one spouse must prove one of the “fault” grounds for divorce only if both parties do not consent to getting a divorce. It also won’t apply at all if the couple does not have any children from the marriage.
Even with these amendments, the proposed bills will make it more expensive to get a divorce. One spouse will have to prove one of the grounds listed above. That spouse’s divorce lawyer will have to spend hours gathering documentation—dirt, really—on the other spouse to do so. The other spouse’s lawyer will have to dispute these allegations. Both parties will spend thousands of dollars that they currently need not spend under the current law.
Finally, proving fault means that more divorces will end up in the court system and increase the already backlogged and overburdened court dockets. Couples will face even longer wait times for motion and trial dates. It’s unclear whether Krause intends to increase funding to the family court system to help eliminate backlogs this bill might cause if it passes.
If the No-Fault Divorce Option Ends in Texas…
We are watching this bill, its amendments and related bills very closely and will continue to update our blog. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how this bill could affect you if you file for divorce, please contact us. If you’d like to file for divorce under the current no-fault system, contact us right away to discuss your options.