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The Move to End No-Fault Divorces in Texas

The Move to End No-Fault Divorces in Texas

No-fault divorce has been a significant aspect of family law in the United States, allowing couples to dissolve their marriages without proving wrongdoing. In fact, no-fault divorces are allowed in all 50 states. Yet, there has been a movement recently that wants to end them. In this article, we will explore what a no-fault divorce is and whether no-fault divorces are nearing their demise in Texas.

What is a No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce enables couples to end their marriage without assigning blame to either party. This type of divorce is based on grounds such as “irreconcilable differences” or “insupportability,” indicating that the marriage has broken down beyond repair. No-fault divorce simplifies the legal process, making it quicker, less adversarial, and often less expensive than fault-based divorces.

Current State of Divorce Law in Texas

In Texas, couples can choose between no-fault and fault-based divorce. Under the no-fault system, the primary ground for divorce is insupportability, meaning the marriage has become unsustainable due to irreconcilable differences. This approach streamlines the divorce process and reduces the need for contentious legal battles.

However, Texas also allows for fault-based divorces, where one spouse must prove the other’s misconduct. Grounds for fault-based divorce can be found in Chapter 6 of the Family Code and include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty (mental or physical abuse)
  • Abandonment (for at least one year)
  • Conviction of a felony (with a prison sentence of at least one year)
  • Living apart (for at least three years)
  • Confinement in a mental hospital (for at least three years with little hope of recovery)

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The Push to End No-Fault Divorce in Texas

The movement to end no-fault divorce in Texas is gaining traction, particularly among conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups. Proponents of this change argue that no-fault divorce undermines the institution of marriage and makes it too easy for couples to end their unions without attempting reconciliation.

Public Advocacy

Matt Krause: Texas State Representative Matt Krause has been a vocal advocate for ending no-fault divorce, arguing it would help keep families together and protect spouses who do not wish to divorce.

Conservative Figures: Influential conservatives like Texan Steven Crowder have criticized no-fault divorce, claiming it undermines marriage and harms men disproportionately.

Legislative Efforts

Past Attempts: In 2017, Texas state representative Matt Krause introduced a bill to abolish no-fault divorce, though it did not pass.

Republican Party Platform

The Texas Republican Party supports policies that would extend the waiting period for divorce and promote covenant marriages. Covenant marriages require premarital counseling and limit divorce grounds to more severe issues like adultery or abuse.

J.D. Vance’s Stance:
On a national level, J.D. Vance, the Republican senator from Ohio and Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee, has expressed strong opposition to no-fault divorce laws. Here are the key points about Vance’s stance:

  • Vance has criticized no-fault divorce laws, claiming they make it too easy for people to end marriages. He has stated that these laws allow people to “shift spouses like they change their underwear.”
  • In 2021, Vance argued that even unhappy or violent marriages should not be easily dissolved for the sake of children’s stability. He suggested that ending such marriages “didn’t work out for the kids.”
  • Vance has framed no-fault divorce as part of the “sexual revolution” that he believes has had negative effects on American society and families.
  • He has held up his grandparents’ marriage as an example, praising them for staying together “to the end” despite having a “chaotic marriage.”
  • Vance’s comments have been criticized as potentially trapping women in abusive relationships and ignoring the benefits of no-fault divorce in reducing domestic violence.
  • Recently, as Vance joined the GOP presidential ticket, he has attempted to soften or reframe some of his previous statements on divorce, particularly those related to violent marriages.

It’s worth noting that Vance’s stance on no-fault divorce aligns with a broader conservative movement that has been critical of these laws, arguing for divorce reform. However, his views have been controversial and have faced significant criticism, particularly from women’s rights advocates.

Implications of Ending No-Fault Divorce

Eliminating no-fault divorce in Texas could have significant implications, particularly for victims of domestic violence. Critics argue that making divorce harder could trap victims in abusive marriages, as proving fault can be difficult and time-consuming. Some conservative lawmakers acknowledge these concerns and emphasize the need for safeguards to protect vulnerable individuals.

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National Context: Has No-Fault Divorce Been Eliminated Elsewhere?

While no state has entirely eliminated no-fault divorce, some have taken steps to restrict it. For example, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona offer covenant marriages as an alternative to traditional marriages. These marriages require premarital counseling and impose stricter grounds for divorce. However, covenant marriages remain relatively rare.

Aspect Covenant Marriage Standard Marriage
Definition A form of marriage that requires pre-marital counseling and limits the grounds for divorce. A traditional marriage that allows for no-fault divorce and does not require pre-marital counseling.
Pre-Marital Counseling Mandatory. Couples must undergo counseling before getting married. Not required.
Grounds for Divorce Limited to specific faults such as adultery, abuse, felony conviction, abandonment, or living apart for a significant period. Allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorce (e.g., irreconcilable differences).
Waiting Period for Divorce Typically, there are longer waiting periods, and counseling may be required before proceeding with divorce. Varies by state; generally shorter waiting periods with no mandatory counseling for divorce.
Legal Availability Available in three states: Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. Available in all 50 states.
Purpose To strengthen the commitment to marriage and reduce the likelihood of divorce. To provide a flexible and accessible legal framework for marriage and divorce.
Divorce Process Complexity More complex, often requiring proof of fault and additional counseling. Less complex, especially in no-fault cases.

Conclusion

The move to end no-fault divorce in Texas is part of a broader conservative effort to reinforce traditional family values and make marriages more resilient. While this push has garnered support from some lawmakers and advocacy groups, it faces significant opposition due to concerns about the potential impact on victims of domestic violence and the overall feasibility of proving fault in divorce cases.

As the debate continues, it will be essential to balance the goal of preserving the institution of marriage with ensuring that individuals have the ability to leave unhealthy or abusive relationships. The future of no-fault divorce in Texas remains uncertain, but the discussions surrounding it highlight the evolving nature of family law and societal values.

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