Understanding Legal Terms: What Is a No-Fault Divorce

If you are thinking about splitting up, it would be good to know the difference between fault and no-fault divorce. The difference is much bigger than just semantics, and not knowing it could end up costing you money, time, and nerves. So before you even begin the whole process, get familiar with the legal terms, your options, and the steps you need to take.

Woman crying.
Splitting up is hard for everybody, but it doesn’t have to be expensive as well.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

So what does no-fault divorce mean? It means that a person can end a marriage without having to explain the cause or prove the guilt of either party to the court. You don't need a reason to end the relationship. Some states use the terms “irreconcilable differences” or “irretrievable breakdown of the relationship”, but in essence, this means the relationship is over without the possibility of being fixed.

What Is the Difference Between a Fault and No-Fault Divorce?

When we talk about fault vs. no-fault divorce, the main difference is in proving one of the spouses’ responsibility for ending the relationship in the eyes of the law. In this case, the court will look into the reason for the breakup and adjudicate in favor of the spouse who is least guilty or not guilty at all. The most common grounds for this are:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty and abuse
  • Abandonment for a specified length of time
  • Imprisonment
  • Inability to engage in sexual intercourse

Placing the blame for the dissolution of marriage on one spouse is not that common of practice in law anymore, but some judges may include some reasons listed above in their judgment even if you don’t petition for this kind of dissolution of marriage. The other difference is that, if the responsibility of one party is to be proven, couples must live separately for some time (depending on the state) before they file for legal separation.

Woman crying.
Inflicting physical pain to your partner is the most common reason for ending a relationship.

How Long Does It Take for a No-Fault Divorce?

According to no-fault divorce laws, when one party files for divorce in Texas, the other party can’t fight it. There is no derogatory testimony, and any misconduct cannot be used against you or your spouse when it comes to a property division, child support, child custody, and alimony. So this process usually takes less time. For instance, this type of separation falls under the uncontested divorce category or policy, and if you wonder How long does a divorce take in Texas?, you will be happy to hear that in this case the whole process usually lasts for 61 days.

Man signing a paper.
If you have an agreement with your marital partner, the whole process will be over quickly.

Is Texas a No-Fault Divorce State?

The short answer is yes, it is. Texas does not require either spouse to prove the responsibility of the other one when splitting up. But child support, division of assets, and custody can make this matter complicated and last longer. According to the Family Code in Texas, the court may reach the decision without regard to fault on the grounds of “insupportability”, meaning that the relationship has ended because of discord or conflict without the possibility of reconciliation. The court can also end a marriage in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of abuse, adultery, abandonment, and conviction of a felony.

How to File for a No-Fault Divorce in Texas

You need to file a couple of no-fault divorce forms to your district court in the county where either spouse has resided for at least 90 days. Texas petition for divorce begins with an Original Petition document. Depending on whether or not there are children involved, the documents needed are the following.

With children:

  • Original Petition
  • Waiver of Service
  • Affidavit of Name Change (if applicable)
  • County Court Specific Cover Sheet and related documents/forms
  • Suit Affecting Family Relationship Form
  • Standing Order
  • Final Decree of marriage end
  • Final Hearing Testimony / Prove Up

Without children:

  • Original Petition
  • Waiver of Service
  • Affidavit of Name Change (if applicable)
  • County Court Specific Cover Sheet and related documents/forms
  • Suit Affecting Family Relationship Form
  • Final Decree of marital separation
  • Final Hearing Testimony / Prove Up
Family Law.
If you have children, you will have to fill out more paperwork.

How Much Does a No-Fault Divorce Cost in Texas?

How much does a divorce cost? The main factor in cost determination is whether it is a contested or uncontested scenario. A contested divorce in Texas may last for a couple of months, and the average costs are around $15,000 to $27,000, depending on how complicated the case is. For example, if you’re divorcing in Texas with children, it will surely cost you more than if you’re child-free.

When it comes to uncontested divorce in Texas, the cost will be much lower. You will have to pay state fees (around $350), and if you file all the documents on your own, that will be all you will pay. But as you may know, many papers need to be submitted in a short period, which is why people usually contact a consulting lawyer to help them file documents. If you decide to take this option, your expenses will likely be around $4000.

You can also ask for mediation if you don't have a full agreement with your spouse about property division, alimony, child custody, but don't want to go to court. In that case, a petition is also submitted on the grounds of insupportability, but an impartial third party will help you with the settlement. The cost of mediation is between $500 to $1000, and you can do this online.

Today, You Can Split Up Online

As we mentioned above, you can file for an uncontested divorce in Texas online for an affordable fee of $195. This is especially handy if you want to divorce during Covid. The lawyer will help you submit all online divorce papers for you and arrange everything with your local district court. They will do the finalization of this divorce process in Texas, and filing for divorce online will be all you need to do. They will even contact your partner and inform him or her about this whole process. If you want to file for a no-fault divorce online, make sure to do proper research and find the right representative.

Couple sitting in front of forms.
Go online and search for the best legal services.

Talk to Your Attorney: Is No-Fault Divorce a Good Option for You?

Before you begin the split-up process, it would be good to search for legal advice to figure out which option listed above is better. There are still arguments about which kind of dissolution of marriage is better. This is why there is an option for every person to choose what kind of process she or he wants. In some cases, submitting for a fault-based dissolution of marriage is better, especially if you can easily prove the guilt of the other party (like in the cases of domestic violence). In this case, your lawyer will usually advise you to go for the fault-based option.