With 50% of marriages in the United States ending in divorce or separation, and infidelity considered one of the leading causes of divorce, it is typical to question how such indiscretions could impact your divorce proceedings.
Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means no legal reason is required to divorce your spouse. That being said, Texas also allows "fault" divorces. This means that you can still file for divorce based on the fault of your spouse, including infidelity, but it doesn't change anything.
Does Adultery Affect Divorce?
A court may take adultery committed by either spouse into consideration when making alimony decisions and could deny alimony to a spouse whose infidelity is proven. Adultery can still be a determining factor even if it was committed after you separated from your spouse or lived apart from him/her.
Additionally, fault can play a role in the division of community property in divorce proceedings. If you can prove that your spouse committed adultery while you were married, then you can request to receive a greater or disproportionate award of marital property. It is up to the court’s discretion to determine a fair division of property during a divorce. One factor that will be brought up is martial misconduct, an example of which is adultery. The dissipation of the marital estate can be affected by this type of misconduct, with a spouse receiving less assets.
Texas courts will also consider how much money was spent during the affair, including any expenses that may have been acquired on a trip to pay for hotels, flights, gifts, and other items. If one spouse decided to spend money prodigiously on their lover, then any debt acquired may be assigned to them.
The courts aim to obtain equity between both spouse and will help one spouse in the event the other caused financial damages.
What Is Considered Adultery in Texas?
Texas Family Code §6.003 defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not the spouse. However, this infidelity must be proven in court to be recognized. To prove adultery, you must show circumstantial evidence of the affair, which might include phone records, bank statements, credit card statements, text messages, and photographs.
Does Adultery Impact Child Custody & Visitation?
Texas law does not typically take adultery into consideration when making a child custody and/or visitation decision. Instead, the courts focus on each parent’s ability to care for the child. Adultery might impact such matters if one parent abandoned or neglected the child to engage in the affair.
Is It Considered Adultery if You and Your Spouse Were Separated?
Texas does not recognize legal separation, which means you are considered married until you are legally divorced. If you begin a new intimate relationship with someone during the divorce process – even if you and your spouse live in different homes or consider yourselves separated – then you are still committing adultery.
Consult with a Reputable Attorney from Our Firm
Adultery could impact the outcome of your divorce. As such, it is important to seek the experienced legal counsel of a family law attorney beforehand to ensure your rights are protected. If you require legal assistance navigating how alimony and equitable distribution may be affected by infidelity, we provide tailored divorce services for our clients.
At the Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we strive to exceed our clients’ expectations. We take a client-focused approach and will strive to reach the most favorable outcome possible.