Cruelty as Grounds for Divorce
Most married couples disagree on occasion and may exchange unkind words during arguments. There is a difference, though, between conduct caused by occasional conflicts and ongoing behavior that constitutes psychological or physical mistreatment, which can make a marriage unsustainable. While most marriages end due to irreconcilable differences, Texas allows for parties to seek dissolution of their marriages on numerous fault-based grounds, including cruelty. While there are potential benefits to seeking a fault-based divorce, establishing that a marriage ended because of one party’s hostile behavior can be challenging. If your spouse engages in callous behavior and you wish to end your marriage, it is advisable to talk to an attorney about whether you may be able to assert cruelty as grounds for divorce. The assertive Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group have ample experience handling contentious divorce cases, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly to help you seek the results you deserve.Grounds for Divorce Under Texas Law
The Texas Family Code (the Code) establishes the grounds for granting a divorce in Texas. Specifically, the Code states that courts may grant no-fault divorces due to insupportability, commonly known as irreconcilable differences (i.e., you can get a divorce without needing to show that one party is at fault). The Code also sets forth cruelty, adultery, abandonment, living separate and apart for at least three years, confinement to a mental hospital, and conviction of a felony as grounds for a fault-based divorce.Establishing Cruelty as Grounds for Divorce
A party seeking a divorce due to cruelty or any other fault-based grounds bears the burden of proving their spouse is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. The Code does not define cruelty, but merely states that the courts can grant a divorce in one spouse’s favor if the other spouse engaged in cruel treatment towards the petitioning spouse and the treatment was of a nature that made living together insupportable.
Generally, the spouse accused of cruel treatment will not admit fault. As such, divorce actions filed on cruelty grounds often proceed to trial, and the party alleging cruelty must offer sufficient evidence to prove their position in order for the courts to grant a fault-based divorce in their favor. The Texas courts have explained that trivial disagreements or matters do not constitute grounds for granting a divorce on the grounds of cruel treatment, nor does treatment that only causes embarrassment or nervousness. In other words, the treatment must be intolerable, insufferable, or unendurable. While physical abuse constitutes grounds for granting a cruel treatment divorce, it is not necessary for the party alleging they were the victim of cruel treatment to demonstrate bodily harm in order to prevail. Notably, the Texas courts have ruled that adultery, the accumulation of multiple separate acts, financial and emotional abuse, and behavior that arises after a couple’s separation can constitute grounds for granting a cruel treatment divorce.The Impact of Cruelty as Grounds for Divorce
If a court grants a cruel treatment divorce in favor of one party, it may impact both parties’ rights. Specifically, the courts may consider cruel treatment as one of the factors when determining what constitutes a just and right division of community assets; the courts may not, however, use cruel treatment as grounds for punishing the offending party. If spousal maintenance is warranted, the courts may also consider a party’s cruel treatment in determining the duration and amount of spousal maintenance.Talk to a Trusted Dallas Attorney About Your Options
Persistent callous treatment can make a marriage unbearable, and people subjected to their spouse’s malicious behavior may be able to assert cruelty as grounds for divorce. If you have questions about whether you may be able to seek a divorce on fault-based grounds, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about your options. The trusted Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are dedicated to helping people protect their interests in family-law proceedings, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our primary office is in Dallas, and we are can meet clients by appointment at our Collin-County office in Plano. We regularly represent people in fault-based divorce actions in Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth, McKinney, Richardson, Frisco, Irving, and Rockwall. Additionally, we aid people with family-law matters in cities in Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Tarrant, Rockwall, and Denton Counties. You can reach us by calling us at 214.692.8200 or using our form online to set up a confidential conference.