Your Rights as An Abandoned Spouse in Texas

Abandoned spouse rights

Being abandoned by a spouse can leave a partner unsure of where to turn. When both spouses participate in the process, divorce can be overwhelming. But being left to tackle the dissolution of a marriage alone can feel impossible. It will be necessary to prove abandonment to file for a fault-based divorce. Finding a Pearland divorce attorney willing to take complex divorce cases is imperative to ensure the proper steps are taken. We understand this is a frightening time, but Terry & Roberts will walk you through the divorce process and support you in a spousal abandonment divorce case. Learn more about abandoned spouse rights below.

Abandonment in Texas

There are seven reasons a person may file for divorce in Texas, and abandonment is one of these reasons. The spouse filing for a divorce on the basis of abandonment must prove this reason, which can be challenging. As mentioned, as a reason for filing for divorce, a spouse must prove abandonment by demonstrating the other partner left with the intention to abandon them and that they remained away for at least one year.

Abandonment does not occur when a partner has been asked to leave by another spouse or if the spouse wishing to leave informs the other spouse of their intention. A partner in a marriage must go on their own free will and demonstrate no intention of returning.

In Texas, it is not required to prove fault in divorce. However, if fault exists at the ending of a marriage, then a partner can pursue a fault-based divorce. Why is it imperative to seek legal advice when filing for divorce on grounds of abandonment?

It Is Essential to Continue with Divorce Proceedings

Many spouses may find it too challenging or impossible to locate a spouse when abandonment has occurred. It may feel simpler to continue in a state of unknowing with the marriage still intact. However, Texas is a community property state, which means that any assets or debts accumulated during the marriage until it is legally dissolved will be divided in a just and right manner under the law, and community property law does specify the management, control, and disposal of assets under particular circumstances, such as abandonment.

A spouse has the right to protect themselves against further debt incurred by another spouse. Additionally, it may be vital to set up a means of support for children from the relationship or find help to cover essential household bills.

How to Continue in the Divorce Process

If you cannot locate a marital partner, it is still possible to file for divorce. It will be up to the spouse filing for divorce to initiate the paperwork, ensure the residency requirements are met, file the forms in the appropriate county, and serve the other partner with these papers, which will be delivered by someone such as the sheriff, constable, or private process server. If the other spouse cannot be located, then the filing spouse can continue with the service of process, and the courts will determine whether the information is to be posted online, in a local publication, or at the courthouse, and a waiting period must be allowed for response.

A default judgment may be ordered when the spouse does not respond. How the information is served can be affected by whether or not there are children between the marital partners and if there is community property, so following the appropriate steps is critical.

Abandonment and Assets

AbandonmentMarital misconduct is taken into account when spousal maintenance is considered. Terry & Roberts will work to ensure that the documentation surrounding abandonment proves that marital misconduct contributed to the end of the marriage. A partner filing for divorce on the grounds of abandonment may receive additional consideration in a spousal maintenance award.

As mentioned, Texas adheres to community property law, but it is up to a judge’s discretion to determine what is just and right in the division of assets. Abandonment by a spouse can play a role in marital property division. It is up to the spouse filing for divorce to demonstrate that due diligence was performed in trying to locate the spouse accused of abandonment.

When they cannot be located, the courts may allow an Alternative Service to notify the spouse of divorce proceedings. Following each required legal step serves to protect you and your rights.

Abandonment and Child Custody

Abandonment and Child Custody

Determining the best interest of a child is always a priority under Texas law. A Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR) is automatically filed in divorce proceedings when children are involved, with each parent requiring notification. Filing a SAPCR will allow a court to determine what is best for a child and will detail how the child should be taken care of, but parental notification will be challenging in an abandonment case.

When both parents agree with the terms of a SAPCR, the process can be completed in a timely manner. Working with a Pearland family law attorney is essential in Texas divorce cases involving abandonment. Putting temporary orders in place may also be necessary since the process takes longer in abandonment cases.

It will be imperative that the process of notifying the spouse that a SAPCR has been filed is followed, and proof must exist to support abandonment if a parent is requesting the termination of parental rights. Again, it will be up to the parent to prove this termination of rights is in a child’s best interest, and representation by a determined family law attorney in Texas is essential.

When Termination of Rights is Not Granted

As previously mentioned, it is considered in a child’s best interest that both parents be involved in their life if possible. Even when abandonment occurs, the courts may award supervised visitation to facilitate the parent/child relationship. Any modifications to a SAPCR must be completed through the court process, and keeping a child from a parent even after abandonment is not permitted if an SAPCR allows visitation.

Parents may be required by law to pay child support, and working with a Pearland family law attorney can help ensure a child receives the support they deserve when abandonment occurs. When locating a parent is impossible, legal action may be required to enforce child support payments.

Contact Terry & Roberts if your child’s relationship with the other parent is a concern so that we can discuss a sole managing conservatorship. There are options to protect a child’s emotional welfare by modifying a SAPCR when parental rights are kept intact.

Additional Factors Affecting the Grounds for Divorce

To prove abandonment, a spouse must cease any contact for one year. When filing for divorce on the grounds of abandonment, any contact, such as the acts listed below by the abandoning spouse, can be used to prove that abandonment did not occur.

  • The spouse continued to send money without being present
  • Calls were made to speak with a child or spouse
  • Attempts at reconciliation were made
  • The spouse made brief stays back in the home before leaving again

An absence of one consecutive year must be observed. If a partner leaves the home and comes back briefly, determining the length of absence begins each time the person goes away.

Filing for No-Fault Divorce

A spouse who has been abandoned may also file for a no-fault divorce. While this is an option, a spouse must still be served with divorce papers, as previously described. Though this divorce process may be simpler, it does possess limiting possibilities.

In a divorce granted due to marital misconduct, the judge may weigh these factors in the division of assets, while this will not be the case in a no-fault divorce. The division of assets can be vital in helping an individual begin again after divorce, particularly when abandonment has taken place. It will be necessary to be aware of all the assets a person may be entitled to before determining the type of divorce to file.

Because both assets and debts are community property in Texas, filing a no-fault divorce may limit the ability of a spouse to defend against the responsibility of any debts that a partner incurred after the abandonment took place.

Filing a no-fault divorce can sometimes produce a lack of self-defense since filing a no-fault divorce allows both spouses to be treated equally under the law even though a fault occurred.

Locating a Spouse Accused of Abandonment

There are avenues to locate a spouse accused of abandonment to notify them that divorce proceedings are being filed, particularly in a world with constant computer interaction. Working with the Pearland divorce team of Terry & Roberts can help prevent conflict with the other spouse. It is always recommended to have an attorney, liaison, or law enforcement make contact with you.

  • Search social media sites
  • Contact friends or relatives of the spouse
  • Document addresses a spouse may be known to stay at for periods of time
  • Verify employment has not changed

Documentation will be required to verify every attempt has been made to notify a spouse of divorce, and Terry & Roberts will help ensure the divorce process in as timely a manner as possible.

Speak With a Pearland, TX Abandonment Divorce Attorney Today

Unfortunately, seeking help and finalizing a divorce based on abandonment can be overwhelming, but the divorce lawyers at Terry & Roberts will ensure that the proper steps are taken to complete the divorce process and protect your best interests. The steps you take will be affected by the presence of children in a marriage, and ensuring they are cared for is also vital. We understand the difficulties an abandoned spouse faces and strive to provide each client with solid legal representation to prove cases of abandonment in a Texas divorce.

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