Can I File for Divorce if We Still Live Together in Texas?

People get divorced for many reasons.  When either spouse’s safety is not an issue in the divorce, it may make sense to continue living together to save money until the divorce is finalized.  It may also be your only option if you don’t have friends or family nearby that you can stay with while the divorce case plays out.  But is it legal to get divorced while still living together?

Under Texas law, there are multiple types of divorce with different requirements.  “Living apart” is only a requirement for some of these divorces.  This means that your ability to keep living together while the divorce plays out (or even after the divorce) depends on what type of divorce you are filing.

For help with your divorce case, call The Queenan Law Firm’s Dallas divorce attorneys today at (817) 476-1797.  We offer free case evaluations.

Can I Divorce My Spouse in Texas if We Still Live Together?

Generally speaking, divorce laws in Texas do indeed allow people to still live together while they are getting divorced, and even afterward.  There is no law that says that anyone has to move out during a divorce.  In fact, there is no law that says whether married or divorced people must or must not live together.  However, there are a few factors that might complicate matters if you do live together.

One of the grounds for divorce, specifically the one under Tex. Fam. Code § 6.006, is divorce based on living apart.  Under this option for divorce, spouses can get divorced if they have spent at least 3 years living separately, “without cohabitation.”  If you are trying to rely on these grounds for divorce, then you cannot keep living together.

Generally speaking, a court will deny a divorce on these grounds if you are still living together or have not yet reached the 3-year mark for your separation.  Since Texas has other “no-fault” divorce grounds under § 6.001, it is not necessary to move apart to get a no-fault divorce in Texas.  Talk to a Texas divorce attorney about what grounds are best to use for your specific divorce case.

Additionally, in divorce cases based on abuse (called “cruelty” under § 6.002), it might not be safe to keep living together.  Under this divorce option, you must prove that “living together” is now “unsupportable” because of their cruel treatment.  Continuing to in fact live with an abusive spouse would undermine your claim that you can no longer live with them.

Many divorces based on abuse also include a restraining order to keep the abusive spouse out of the shared home.  If you do intend to continue sharing a home during or after the divorce, this would complicate your situation.

What Does it Mean to Live “Separately” in a Divorce?

Many divorce laws in various states use the phrase “separate and apart” to describe separate living.  Texas just uses the phrase “living apart,” but the implication is clear based on the way the law treats this requirement: you live in a different house than your spouse.

Drawing the line is often difficult in more complex situations.  For example, is it “living apart” if you live in a different apartment unit within the same building?  Almost certainly yes.  Is it “living apart” if your basement is furnished as a guest suite and you move in there?  What about living in a detached guest house on the same property?  Roommates often share a common area and a kitchen, but live most of their time in separate rooms – would that count?

If you are pursuing a divorce based on “living apart” under § 6.006, your Texas divorce attorney can help you establish a different residence from your spouse that will legally qualify as “separate.”  Your attorney might also suggest if you are planning to live in any of these questionable arrangements that you file for divorce based on “insupportability” under § 6.001 instead of “living apart.”  These divorce grounds have no requirement that the couple live apart and can be used to end a marriage even with potentially uncommon living arrangements.

How Do I Apply for a No-Fault Divorce in Texas?

Whether you are seeking a no-fault divorce through “insupportability” under § 6.001 or “living apart” under § 6.006, you apply for divorce the same way as any other divorce.  The partner seeking the divorce will file their divorce petition in court, usually with the help of an Arlington divorce attorney.  At this time, you will have to fill out paperwork and submit a petition laying out the grounds for divorce.  Since the divorce is based on no-fault grounds, there is no need for allegations of abuse or adultery or anything like that.  Your attorney can help with all of these filings.

What if My Spouse Won’t Finalize the Divorce and We Live Together?

Asking a spouse to sign divorce papers and agree to a no-fault divorce is not always easy.  Especially if you are still living together, your spouse might threaten to kick you out of the house if you go through with the divorce, or they might even turn to violence.  In any case, our Odessa Texas divorce attorneys have a few routes we can pursue to get you the divorce you want.

One method is to simply file the case in court, where your spouse will have to respond.  If they refuse to show up for divorce proceedings after being properly served, they will lose the divorce case by default.  A default ruling against a defendant in a divorce case means that the divorce goes through and that they do not get a chance to participate in the negotiations for asset division, alimony, child custody, etc., since they gave up that right by failing to appear in court.

Another option is that your lawyer can refile the case using fault grounds for divorce instead of no-fault divorce grounds.  If your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers and becomes threatening or abusive because of your attempt at seeking a peaceful divorce, they may have created grounds for you to sue for divorce based on fault grounds like “cruelty” under § 6.002.

Call Our Texas Divorce Lawyers for Help with Your Case

The Fort Worth divorce attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm offer free divorce case evaluations.  Call us today at (817) 476-1797.