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The fate of no-fault divorce hangs in the balance in Texas

At no other time in this country's history has ending a marriage been easier. A person wanting a divorce no longer has to establish "grounds" before it is granted. However, the Texas legislature now wants to end, or at least limit, no-fault divorce.

In 2015, a panel of lawmakers liked the idea enough that it passed its first hurdle. Now, HR 65 is being discussed in this year's legislative session. One woman attended the public hearings to say that she and her children are against her husband's desire for a divorce, but Texas' no-fault divorce law gives him the right to a divorce regardless of how they feel.

Lawmakers propose excluding the use of no-fault divorce for couples with children. In addition, fault would only need to be proved if one party does not consent to the divorce. For those couples with children, grounds such as cruelty, abandonment and adultery, along with a felony conviction, three years of separation or confinement in a mental hospital would need to be proved. The law also includes a provision to redact certain information in the court documents, which might prevent others from knowing which party was at fault and why. If the law passes, divorces could get a whole lot more complicated.

The current proposal appears to continue to allow couples who agree to divorce the right to do so without proving fault as long as they do not have children. This might encourage couples without children who would otherwise go to court over issues such as property division to consider using mediation or collaborative divorce to resolve their issues instead. If a couple with children agrees to divorce, one party might be forced to accept fault. Only time will tell whether this law will pass, and family law attorneys across the state will undoubtedly be paying close attention as it moves through the state's legislature.

Source: kxan.com, "Texas bill making divorce harder gets early movement", Phil Prazan, March 8, 2017

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Vernier & Associates, PLLC Vernier & Associates, PLLC

Vernier & Associates, PLLC
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