What is no-fault divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Divorce

No-fault divorce law has been on the books in most states, including Texas, for decades, but it has recently become somewhat controversial. A growing number of conservative pundits have argued against the law in recent months, and some Texas lawmakers have argued that it should be repealed.

Critics of no-fault divorce say it has made it too easy to leave a marriage, which has in turn led to a weakening of the American family. Proponents of no-fault divorce say the law supports the freedom of adults to make decisions about their lives, and has been crucial for allowing abused spouses to leave marriages marred by domestic violence.

In this blog post, we will try to avoid political arguments and simply provide a basic introduction to the concept of no-fault divorce.

How it used to be

Generations ago, if you wanted to dissolve your marriage in Texas, you generally had to have grounds for divorce. Essentially, this meant that you claimed that your spouse did something wrong, and you had to provide evidence of that wrong. If your spouse didn’t want to end the marriage, this made things very difficult.

Beginning in the late 1960s, states, including Texas, began enacting no-fault divorce laws. The way Texas addressed the issue was by allowing courts to grant a divorce without regard to fault so long as the marriage had become insupportable due to “discord or conflict of personalities.” In other words, the spouse seeking the divorce does not have to prove that the other did anything wrong.

Divorce isn’t easy

Even today, there are some Texas divorces that are based on fault, but the vast majority are no-fault.

To be clear, it’s much easier to go through a no-fault divorce than it is to win a divorce based on fault. Still, few who have gone through a no-fault divorce would describe the process as easy. It’s always emotionally difficult to end a marriage, and it’s always challenging to resolve property division, child custody and the other legal issues involved. But when the goal is to get out of an abusive relationship, or simply to escape unhappiness, most people will tell you the difficulties were worth it.