Abandonment as Grounds for Fault-Based Divorce in Texas

Texas is one of the few states that still recognizes fault-based divorces, and may grant a divorce in one spouse’s favor if sufficient grounds for fault are established. Under Section 6.005 of the Texas Family Code, abandonment is one of the seven grounds for a fault-based divorce in Texas. If a spouse is found guilty of abandonment, it can have serious consequences on the outcome of the divorce. For instance, if the courts determine that claims of abandonment are true, they may grant more custody to the abandoned spouse, as well as a greater share of the marital assets.

If your spouse abandoned you and your children, contact the Clark Law Group to speak with a Dallas divorce attorney about filing for a fault-based divorce.

Grounds for a Texas Divorce

Though most couples site insupportability when filing for a Texas divorce—insupportability meaning that “the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation” (Section 6.001)—Texas allows six ways to hold a spouse responsible for the end of marriage. When blame is assigned to one spouse, the filing spouse does not need the consent of the other to file. The six fault-based grounds for a Texas divorce include:

  • Adultery;
  • Cruelty;
  • Incarceration/felony conviction;
  • Mental incapacity;
  • Living apart for at least three years; and
  • Abandonment.

Abandonment

In order for your divorce to qualify for abandonment, there are two requirements that it must meet:

  • Your spouse left you and remained gone for at least one year; and
  • Your spouse left with the intention of abandoning you.

If your spouse left against his or her will, or if they were gone for job-related purposes—such as a military deployment—you do not have grounds for abandonment. In order for a judge to place blame on one spouse and grant you your fault-based divorce, you must have sufficient evidence proving that your spouse did in fact abandon you. Evidence that holds up in divorce court may include eyewitness testimonies, letters, bank statements, and other hard documents that sufficiently prove abandonment.

Effects of Abandonment on the Final Divorce Decree

If you are successful in proving that your spouse abandoned you, the courts may heavily favor you when determining the final settlement and conditions of divorce. For instance, if you can prove that by abandoning you, your spouse deprived you of certain financial benefits that come with marriage, the judge may grant you a larger share of the marital assets.

When it comes to custody, the Texas courts frown heavily on individuals that abandon their families, and are likely to grant the abandoned parent a majority of physical and legal custody rights. After all, a parent who abandons his or her children is likely not a parent that can provide a safe and stable environment for the children, much less provide for a child’s basic physical and emotional needs—two requirements of a “best interests” child custody arrangement (Texas Family Code, Section 153.001).

Finally, though the Texas divorce courts typically do not award alimony unless the marriage lasted for 10 or more years, if the courts determine that one spouse committed any sort of “misconduct” during the duration of the marriage—including abandonment—they may be obliged to award alimony to the abandoned spouse.

Retain the Legal Help of a Dallas, Texas Divorce Attorney

If your spouse has abandoned you, you may be able to file for a fault-based Dallas divorce. Contact your Dallas divorce attorney at the Clark Law Group to learn more about the benefits of filing for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. To speak with a divorce attorney today, contact our offices a call at (469) 906-2266, or schedule an initial consultation online.

(image courtesy of Elizabeth Ann Colette)

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