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What effect does adultery have on a divorce in Texas?

by | May 5, 2021 | Divorce

Catching your spouse cheating on you can be a breaking point from which there is no return. You may feel betrayed and unsafe in your marriage. Anger, sorrow and even guilt because you blame yourself are all common emotional responses to discovering an extramarital affair.

Many spouses wronged by an unfaithful partner hope to get justice through the courts. If you live in Texas and file for divorce in the Lone Star State, will adultery have any effect on your divorce proceedings? 

Adultery can lead to a fault-based divorce

Most people who get divorced in Texas will file for no-fault proceedings. They simply claim to have grown apart from their ex and ask the court to dissolve the marriage. No-fault divorces are usually faster and therefore cheaper than fault-based divorces.

However, some people feel that they need to establish their spouse’s infidelity and their own lack of culpability in the end of their marriage. Adultery has been and remains one of the legal grounds for a fault-based divorce in Texas.

Members of certain religious communities, for example, may pursue a fault-based divorce so that dissolving their marriage doesn’t affect their religious observance. Others may want to divorce on grounds of adultery because they want the courts to give them some kind of justice.

Will adultery affect property division or alimony?

Under community property statutes, the Texas family law judge presiding over your divorce could consider your ex’s misconduct when deciding how to split your property. Still, it is unlikely that a judge will enter an uneven property judgment based on adultery alone. Misconduct can only have a minor influence on how a judge rules unless there is also dissipation or other factors that should influence the non-cheating spouse’s share of the community property.

If a spouse qualifies for alimony and files for divorce because of infidelity, it’s possible that the adultery will slightly influence the duration or amount of the alimony a judge orders. A judge could deny alimony to a spouse who cheated if there is evidence of the infidelity.

Most of the time, arguing over infidelity in court will have a minimal impact on the outcome of your Texas divorce. However, when there is dissipation or other special considerations stemming from the infidelity, addressing it in court may give you a sense of closure and a fairer outcome.