In Texas legislature, second thoughts about 'no-fault' divorce
Catholic News Agency Jan. 13, 2017
Austin, Texas, Jan 12, 2017 / 04:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Changes to divorce law are up for consideration in the Texas legislature, with supporters saying it is too easy to dissolve a civil marriage.
“There needs to be some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense,” said Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican from Fort Worth. “I think people have seen the negative effects of divorce and the breakdown of the family for a long time,” he added, saying he thought his bill would help reverse the trend.
The bill would remove insupportability, meaning “no fault,” as a grounds for divorce, the Austin-based NBC affiliate KXAN News reports. Rep. Krause had also filed the bill in the 2016 legislative session. A spokesperson for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops said the conference supports legislation that discourages divorce, including the proposal to end “no-fault” divorce.
“No-fault divorce laws typically ease the divorce process, rather than encouraging spouses to seek spiritual guidance or professional counseling to enrich their marriage,” the spokesperson told CNA Jan. 12. “However, in situations of domestic abuse or violence, Church personnel and services should be focused on providing safety and protection to those who are being abused or the victims of violence. No one deserves to be hurt, especially by a supposed 'loved one.'
Any laws that support marriage must also recognize the right for a person to be safe in his or her own home.” One skeptic of the proposal was Slav Talavara, a family lawyer, who told KXAN that about 90 percent of his divorce cases invoke “no-fault” grounds. He said disallowing those grounds would add the need to blame someone to an already difficult process.
All 50 states allow some form of no-fault divorce. New York was the last state to legalize no-fault divorce, in 2010. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, divorce can be sought only on “no-fault” grounds. Texas law recognizes six categories of “fault-based” divorces: adultery, cruelty, abandonment and a felony conviction, living apart for at least three years, or confinement to a mental hospital.
Rep. Krause has filed a separate bill to extend the waiting period for divorce from 60 days to 180 days in cases where the family includes a child under 18 years of age, a child still in high school, or an adult disabled child living in the household. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops supports that bill as well. A spokesperson said it would “provide more time for counseling and other support to protect marriages.”