What affect can adultery have on a divorce in Texas?

What affect can adultery have on a divorce in Texas?

While I don’t have any statistics on the subject to provide you all with, my gut feeling is that infidelity among spouses is more prevalent today than even ten years ago. Maybe this is a result of people losing touch with religion (a trend that can be backed by studies and statistics) and becoming more comfortable with rationalizing their decisions. It could be that due to technology, cheating on your spouse is just simply easier than it has been in prior years so that along has led to an increase in marriages failing because of infidelity.

I didn’t go down this line of thought to be judgmental or to use this blog post as a means to preach a “holier than thou” message. My thought in writing about this subject is purely that infidelity as the cause of the breakup of a marriage is highly relevant and something that many potential clients and clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will ask questions on. If you’re like most people, then what you want to know if what sort of impact can infidelity have on your divorce case? This blog post will discuss considerations to make in your own life if infidelity has led to a decision to file for divorce from your spouse.

Adultery as a “fault” grounds for divorce

Texas, along with many other states, allows you to file for and be granted a divorce from your spouse for no reason at all. Known as a “no fault” divorce, it is the most common reason listed for the divorce in any set of final orders. My favorite thing to tell potential clients in consultations is that you can get a divorce for a reason as silly as not liking the way that your spouse chews their dinner.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, are what are referred to as fault grounds of which infidelity/adultery is one. Adultery does not mean simply having impure thoughts or flirtatious activity with an adult other than your spouse, however. Adultery as it is applied in divorce cases means that your spouse and another person engaged in sexual activity together while your spouse and you were still married. If you suspect that your spouse has been unfaithful to you it would follow that you would do whatever you could to determine if your suspicions are correct. As it turns out, a little digging is essentially to proving your adultery allegation to a judge.

Proving adultery in a court of law

A judge will require a clear indication that there has been unfaithful behavior on the part of your spouse in order to sustain an allegation of adultery. This means that you can present direct evidence (photographs) of an adulterous affair or circumstantial evidence (indirect evidence like suspicious credit card charges or emails) to prove the affair had occurred. Going into a court room with a gut feeling that your spouse is having an affair will likely end with your adultery grounds being tossed out. With this in mind, hiring a lawyer and telling him or her that your spouse is being unfaithful is not going to be enough. You have to turn into a detective of sorts in order to uncover evidence and provide it to your attorney.

How to collect evidence of adultery

The early bird gets the worm as the old saying goes. This is applicable to our discussion of collecting evidence to use against an unfaithful spouse in court as well. Without breaking the law (as in, hacking into an email account) it is wise to begin to collect text messages, phone records or bank statements that may be able to assist you in showing a judge that your spouse has committed adultery which contributed in a meaningful way to the demise your marriage. Social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are all resources that you can utilize to keep tabs on your spouse and possibly uncover any behavior that may be worth presenting to the court in your divorce. It is critical to get to this information as quickly as possible due to the possibility that your spouse may delete any questionable posts or completely eliminate their profiles altogether.

Adultery as grounds for your divorce may lead to changes in how property is distributed

Perhaps the most important reason for proving a fault ground for your divorce is that if you are able to convince a judge that your spouse’s infidelity was the grounds on which your divorce should be based is that you can win a disproportionate share of the martial property up for grabs in your divorce. Disproportionate for our purposes means that you may be awarded more than a “just and right” (50% in most cases) share of the marital property.

However, simply showing that your spouse committed adultery is not enough in and of itself. Rather, you must show that you suffered from a loss of some benefit that a continuation of the marriage would have conferred on you. A disproportionate award of the martial estate in your favor is not intended as a punishment towards your spouse. If the infidelity occurred and you can’t prove any other loss that you suffered because of it there is not going to be a dramatic change in the award of property in your divorce.

The bottom line is that you must show how your spouse’s actions destroyed the marriage and how that has affected you. An example would be to show the judge that your spouse spent money on gifts, food, transportation or other items in furthering his or her extramarital affair. This places an even heavier burden on you to collect evidence while you are still able to in order to move forward with your case.

Questions on divorce and adultery in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today

If you find yourself with additional questions after having read this blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. Our licensed family law attorneys are available to meet with you six days a week for a free of charge consultation. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be happy to share with you the services our office can provide you with.

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