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How To File For Spousal Abandonment In Texas

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How To File For Spousal Abandonment In Texas

Have you found yourself in a situation where your spouse has decided to leave the marital home and cut off contact with no intention of returning?

If so, you may be considering filing for a divorce on the grounds of spousal abandonment in Texas. However, before taking legal action, it’s important to understand exactly what constitutes spousal abandonment and the steps involved in the filing process.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the legal definition of abandonment, evidence requirements, timelines, forms needed, and advice on maximizing your case. Let’s jump in.

Spousal Abandonment

The first step is to determine if your situation legally qualifies as abandonment. Under Texas family law, abandonment is established as a fault ground for divorce. For abandonment to be considered valid, the abandoning spouse must have:

Left the marital home and stayed away for at least one year. The one year separation period is a minimum requirement – abandonment cannot be claimed until this length of time has passed.

Done so without the consent of the other spouse. It’s not abandonment if both parties mutually agreed to separate or live apart.

Not provided any financial support during the separation period. Non-payment of alimony or child support can help prove abandonment.

Done so with the clear intent of ending the marriage. Temporary separations or situations caused by outside circumstances generally do not constitute abandonment. There has to be evidence the abandoning spouse meant to sever the marital relationship on a permanent basis.

So in summary – one year of unconsented separation, non-support, and intent to terminate the marriage are required to satisfy the legal definition of abandonment in Texas. Make sure your situation fits these criteria before moving forward with an abandonment claim.

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Gathering Evidence of Abandonment

Solid evidence is crucial to support an abandonment case. Start documenting and collecting proof from the time separation began. Relevant evidence can include:

Copies of letters or emails from the abandoning spouse expressing lack of intent to return or resume marital duties. Written communications admitting to abandonment are very powerful.

Testimony from family/friends about the abandoning spouse’s stated reasons/plans for leaving and not returning. Affidavits can help corroborate intent.

Lack of financial support records – bank statements, bills showing non-payment, request for child support ignored.

Marital property division – abandoning spouse took a significant amount of shared assets upon leaving.

Photos showing empty side of shared closets, drawers – visual proof of physically leaving the home.

Change of residence/address – driver’s license, bills, etc. moved to new location apart from family home.

Social media indicating establishing a separate life elsewhere after leaving.

Document everything meticulously with exact dates. This evidence strengthens your claim and establishes the one year timeframe required for abandonment. Quality documentation helps ensure a smooth legal process with a favorable ruling.

Initiating the Filing Process

Once abandonment grounds have been valid for at least one full year, it’s time to get the legal ball rolling. Here are the standard steps to officially initiate an abandonment-based divorce filing in Texas:

1. Hire a Family Law Attorney – Abandonment cases uphold specific legal criteria that general filing won’t adequately address. An experienced family attorney maximizes procedural and evidentiary expertise for your claim.

2. Review Evidence Collected – Provide your lawyer all documentation to review for completeness and strength of abandonment proof. They’ll advise if any gaps need addressed before filing.

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3. File Original Petition for Divorce – Using abandonment as the sole fault ground listed. Petition lists basic case facts, relief requested, service instructions for other spouse.

4. File Discovery Requests – Standard requests for disclosure, admissions, interrogatories help obtain further details from the abandoning spouse bolstering your claim.

5. Request Citation Service – File with the court to have your spouse officially served and notified of the abandonment divorce filing against them.

6. Await Response Deadline – The abandoning spouse will have a response window upon being served to either contest the divorce or allow a default ruling in your favor.

7. Move for Default Judgment – If no response, instruct lawyer to file for default final decree since abandonment would go uncontested.

This establishes the primary legal process in a nutshell. Your family attorney can advise on any other required filings or local procedural specifics in your jurisdiction. With a methodical, evidence-based approach – abandonment grounds divorce can be solidified.

Additional Considerations

While filing for abandonment provides the clearest fault-based grounds for divorce, a few other factors are worth keeping in mind as your case moves forward:

Property Division – Texas is a no-fault property division state. Your spouse’s abandonment won’t impact the overall 50/50 split, though factors like wasting assets could be argued.

Child Custody – Abandonment doesn’t automatically impact custody, but may strengthen your position as children primary caretaker after being left.

Alimony/Support – Permanent alimony is rare in TX, but temporary orders securing child/spousal support during proceedings are possible.

Appearance by Abandoning Spouse – There is a chance they contest the divorce, forcing a trial. Solid documentation maintains abandonment claim’s strength against challenges.

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Coercing Return – Filing doesn’t force reconciliation. Focus on legally ending marriage, avoid implying abandonment claim could withdraw their decision to separate.

Mediation Alternatives – Some courts require mediation attempts first. Mediation may resolve divorce amicably without a fault-finding trial over abandonment.

Weigh these additional legal considerations with your attorney based on your unique circumstances. Maintaining strong evidence from the start preempts potential problems down the road in finalizing your abandonment divorce.

Filing for Abandonment: A Viable Option

When used appropriately within Texas divorce law parameters, filing for spousal abandonment grounds provides a clear fault-based path for those seeking to legally dissolve a marriage impacted by long-term separation without consent. The one year requirement, evidentiary documentation of intent, lack of support and permanent severing of marital relations establishes the criteria that abandonment requires.

For those left in legal limbo after an abandoning spouse exits the marriage long-term, pursuing a divorce on abandonment grounds offers definitive resolution provided timelines and other criteria are met. While not ensuring specific property or custody outcomes – it does empower the abandoned spouse to take control over finalizing their marital status through the judicial system.

By understanding abandonment’s legal definition, timelines, evidence needs and standard filing processes – you equip yourself to make an informed decision on whether pursuing this path makes strategic sense in conclusively ending your marriage. With patience and diligent documentation from the start of separation – a solid abandonment claim maximizes chances for a smooth, favorable divorce outcome down the road.

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