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Bill in state legislature would limit "no-fault" divorce

A recent hearing in the Texas state legislature put the spotlight on a bill that is intended to make divorce more difficult in the state. The bill, known as HB 65, cleared its first major hurdle in the legislature and is now pending in a committee. Reporters say it is likely to move out of committee and go to the full legislature for a vote sometime this year. If it becomes law, the bill would make a major change to the state's "no-fault" provision in divorce law.

Under current law, neither party to a divorce must provide evidence that the other party is at fault. Instead, a spouse who wants to end a marriage must only list "insupportability" as the cause of the breakdown of the marriage. Many other states have similar laws, in which a spouse who wants a divorce lists "irreconcilable differences" or similar language as the reason for the divorce.

HB 45 would take away insupportability as grounds for a divorce unless both parties consent to the divorce. It would apply only to marriages with children.

Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect the rights of spouses who do not want a divorce.

Before the advent of no-fault divorce, parties had to provide grounds for the divorce. For instance, they had to provide evidence that their spouse had committed adultery, cruelty, abandonment or other specific acts. Obtaining such evidence was difficult, if not impossible, and imposed an expensive burden on anyone who wanted a divorce, especially if his or her spouse did not consent. As a result, many people remained in unhappy or even abusive marriages much longer than they otherwise would have.

Divorce is never easy, even when both parties consent and agree to work together toward a settlement. It would be a mistake to treat lightly the decision to end a marriage. Still, there are many cases in which divorce is the best answer to a problem. With the help of a skilled lawyer, a person stuck in an unhappy marriage can move on, and have the resources he or she needs to begin a new, happier and independent life.

Source: KXAN.com, "Texas bill making divorce harder gets early movement," Phil Prazan, March 8, 2017

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