So you’re thinking about divorce; but you haven’t quite started yet, unsure if it’s the right step for you.
If you’re like most people, the vast unknown beyond this chapter of life worries you, a bit. You’re concerned about your family… your finances… wondering whether your reasons for divorce are good enough to risk what you have now, on the off chance of something better coming later.
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you that. Only you can.
What we can do, though, is break it down for you. The motivating reasons people give for divorce. The legal reasons we cite for divorce. And the factors that most often drive them to divorce.
Here’s what you need to know about the reasons for divorce, and what North Texas Lawyers can do to help you decide if this step’s right for you.
The Reasons We Get Divorced
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to break “reasons for divorce” down into two categories: 1) the motivating reasons for divorce; and 2) the legal reasons for divorce.
While there can be some overlap, these two groups actually serve two different purposes in the divorce process. Here’s what we mean.
1. Motivating Reasons for Divorce
First off, the motivating reasons for divorce. These are the things that drive people to divorce; the laundry list of hurts, betrayals, and abuses that pile up, and finally prompt a person to start paperwork.
These reasons can be about as varied as the reasons that drive people to marry; however, according to a few recent studies, some of the most common include:
- Communication problems, such as fighting, arguing, bickering (or just, you know, not talking at all).
- An overall lack of commitment, or interest in saving the relationship.
- Marrying too young.
- A lack of love, romance, or intimacy.
- An inability to be intimate.
- An incompatibility and lack of mutual interests that stems from growing apart.
- Conflicts over family responsibilities, such as how to raise kids, childcare responsibilities, and household obligations.
- Financial problems and marital debt.
- Substance abuse and/or an addiction to alcohol.
- Domestic violence includes the whole range of verbal, physical, and emotional harm.
- And, of course, the big one: infidelity. (‘Nough said.)
The reality is, however, that each marriage is different. Each couple reacts and responds differently to different situations; hence, just because you’ve experienced something on this list doesn’t mean your marriage is over. Only you can determine whether enough is enough.
2. Legal Reasons for Divorce
Now that we’ve talked about the motivational reasons prompting people to file for divorce, let’s talk about the legal reasons for divorce.
Unlike the personal motivators that drive couples to file for divorce, there are only a select number of legal reasons for divorce in Texas. In family law, these legal reasons are called “grounds.”
Divorce grounds tell the court why you want to dissolve your marriage, and must be cited on your initial divorce complaint, in order for it to be valid.
While there can sometimes be overlap between your motivations for divorce, and the legal reasons you cite for divorce, the two aren’t always the same thing. (After all, balled up socks under the bed might have been your primary motivator for divorce, but unfortunately, Texas courts allow you to cite this on your official paperwork.)
According to the Texas Family Code, there are only seven acceptable legal reasons for divorce in Texas. Three of these reasons will trigger a no-fault divorce, while four fall under fault-based grounds.
Here’s a closer look.
No-Fault Divorce Reasons
In a no-fault divorce, neither party is blamed for the marriage breaking up. As a result, the process is generally a lot less expensive, quicker, and generally more amicable, overall.
Texas’s no-fault divorce grounds include:
- Insupportability. When the relationship can no longer be supported because of constant fighting or discord, and there’s no reason to think that status will change.
- Living Apart. If the parties have been living apart for at least three years.
- Confinement to a Mental Hospital. If one spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years, with no hope of recovery.
The most common no-fault divorce ground listed in Texas is number one: insupportability (aka: “irreconcilable differences”). This reason for divorce is often cited, even when there has been fault.
This is because fault divorces are often more toxic, drawn-out, and expensive. As a result, some individuals simply choose to ignore fault to make things easier.
Fault-Based Divorce Reasons
In contrast to no-fault divorces, judges in a fault-based divorce are allowed to consider the guilt of one party over the other, and assign “blame” accordingly. (Usually, this results in a less than favorable financial or custody split for the “guilty” spouse).
There are four “fault-based” reasons for divorce in Texas, which are:
- Cruelty. Here, a spouse is being subjected to willful and persistent suffering, also known as “domestic violence.” This abuse can be physical or mental (or both), and can be based on a pattern of behavior, or even just a single event.
- Adultery. This is the most common fault-based divorce grounds, and occurs whenever one spouse has intercourse with someone other than the other spouse while married. In order to be adultery, the act must have been consensual and physical (emotional affairs don’t count).
- Felony. In order to qualify, the act must actually result in a conviction, and incarceration for at least a year.
- Abandonment. This occurs when one spouse willfully leaves the other for at least a year. There must be clear intent not to return.
High-Risk Divorce Factors
We aren’t fortune tellers or anything, but after being around the divorce block a few times, we’ve noticed there are a few things that can put a marriage at higher risk of divorce. Hence, if you haven’t gotten married yet—or simply want to troubleshoot your current relationship—it may be helpful to check these out.
Some of the most common high-risk indicators of a future divorce include:
- Marrying too young;
- Limited education and/or income;
- Premarital cohabitation (except for those who get engaged before living together);
- Pregnancy before marriage (or getting married because of a pregnancy); and,
- Those couples whose parents also got divorced.
Of course, just because you fall under one of these factors doesn’t mean divorce is a foregone conclusion. Knowledge is power, and sometimes just knowing what causes people to divorce can help you avoid it.
Couples who want to insure themselves against the possibility of divorce should talk to a family law attorney about drafting a prenuptial agreement.
Have More Questions About the Reasons for Divorce in Texas?
At the end of the day, no one knows your relationship better than you, which means that no one is better suited to deciding when it’s time to call it quits than you.
If you have more questions about the reasons for divorce—and whether this step is right for you—we want to hear from you. Call North Texas Family Lawyers today at (972) 402-6367, or schedule a consultation online, and let us help you start the next chapter of life outright.