Texas Family Law Code Proof of Cruelty

By Jim Thomas

You can get a divorce in Texas if your spouse is "guilty of cruel treatment" towards you, if that treatment makes "further living together insupportable." The statute does not directly address what type of proof is necessary to show that living together is "insupportable." However, Texas case law provides some guidance.

Defining Cruelty

The bitter divorce case of Newberry v. Newberry, which wound up in the Texas Court of Appeals in 2011, resulted in a lengthy discussion of Texas case law regarding the type and degree of proof necessary to establish cruelty. The appeals court upheld a family court finding of cruelty against Ruel Newberry, who allegedly had sex with an old girlfriend during the marriage and was repeatedly found with pornographic materials in the home.

Proving Cruelty

Texas courts have defined "insupportable" as "incapable of being borne, unendurable, insufferable, intolerable." Previous family court decisions have held that physical abuse constitutes cruelty. Excessive and outrageous non-physical treatment of a spouse can be sufficient to constitute cruelty. Adultery has been deemed sufficient for a finding of cruelty. Several different acts of lesser forms of cruelty may be enough for a court to grant a divorce on cruelty grounds. However, making your spouse nervous or embarrassed doesn't rise to the legal level of cruelty.

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