One of the fears that many people I have met during my time as a family law attorney have presented to me is whether their spouse is faithful to them. When you commit to another person, you can only hope they are as willing as you are to do whatever it takes to ensure that your life together is a prosperous and happy one. Unfortunately, not every situation in marriage leads to these desirable outcomes.
This is where the concerns over infidelity and unfaithfulness come into play. You may have been in prior relationships where you have had negative experiences and therefore expect your partner to violate your trust. On the other hand, you may have seen physical signs of infidelity in the relationship being displayed by your spouse. That has caused you to become skeptical of their assertions that they are faithful despite your gut telling you something different.
So, the question that you need to ask yourself before you start to act like a private detective is whether or not it is in your best interest to go into full-on sleuth mode and attempt to catch your spouse in the act of having an affair. Today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will hopefully shed some light on this subject and help you make a decision one way or the other as to what the best move for you to make is.
What will a court say about your attempt to investigate your spouse?
When you are talking about getting into another person’s business, even when that person is your spouse, you are necessarily talking about an invasion of their privacy without their permission. This is a crime in Texas as every person has a right to be left alone to their affairs unless they permit you to become a part of these intimate affairs.
For example, if you somehow manage to gain access to your spouse’s phone calls and listen in on their conversations without their permission, you need to be aware that you stand to face punishment from the legal system. The bottom line is that the act of you recording a conversation or intercepting an email could stand to hurt you more than it would your spouse in any future divorce proceedings.
Going to jail, being fined by a court, and being ordered not to divulge information relating to these conversations may be the result of your engaging in this sort of behavior. Attorney’s fees, court costs, and on and on go the consequences of being caught in this sort of activity. Before going down this path, be sure that it is something that you are prepared to face potential consequences for if goes the wrong way on you.
What about attaching a tracking device to your spouse’s vehicle?
I think we’ve all seen movies or television shows in which one character manages to slap a miniature tracking device on the undercarriage of their opponent’s vehicle. It should come as no surprise then that reality has begun to imitate fiction. Now that same sort of technology and opportunity has become available to regular, everyday people. What does the law in Texas say about engaging in this sort of act, however?
The fact is that this, too, is illegal. You cannot use a mechanical or electronic tracking device to chart the movement of a person’s vehicle. However, this law does not prohibit you from tracking the whereabouts of a car you own. Meaning that if your spouse is using your vehicle to meet up with their paramour, you can attach a tracking device to your vehicle to keep tabs on where it is going.
What can you do (legally) if your spouse is unfaithful to you?
So far, all I’ve done is throw a bucket of cold water on your ideas of playing James Bond in connection to discovering the nature of your spouse’s infidelity. The question remains: what can you do to protect yourself if your spouse is being unfaithful that is both legal and safe?
On the legal side of things, you should contact an experienced family law attorney if you have proof that your spouse is unfaithful. An attorney knows the law and can give you advice regarding infidelity.
For example, if you go into detective mode and photograph your spouse in the act of an affair, do not expect to use those photos in court. Your spouse has a reasonable expectation of privacy even if they violate the promises made in your marriage.
On the other hand, you can record the conversation if your spouse admits to engaging in an affair. As long as one party knows the conversation is being recorded, it is legal in Texas. You do not need your spouse’s consent to record the conversation, but you cannot go and record any conversation involving your spouse that you are not a part of.
If you are interested in getting elbow-deep in the muck of your spouse’s life, you can search through their trash for evidence of an affair. You may be thinking that it is unreasonable to expect anyone to want to look through trash for any reason. I would argue that you haven’t met some people going through a tricky divorce.
Finally, if you are spying on your spouse’s text messages and come across something juicy regarding an affair, keep in mind that you can use that as evidence against your spouse in a divorce, but only if you take a photograph or screenshot of the text message. Your attorney will be able to tell you the most effective way to document text message evidence for optimal use in the courtroom.
Consider how valuable the evidence you are attempting to accumulate to you and your case.
Before you start to engage upon dangerous paths towards intercepting evidence related to unfaithfulness and your spouse, be aware that unless your spouse’s infidelity has cost you money in the form of community assets being used up or has harmed your relationship with your children, adultery is not a silver bullet that can solve all of your issues in conjunction with your divorce. Just because you have made the judge aware that your spouse has been unfaithful does not mean that you will be awarded all of your marital property or that your children will be able to remain with you for an indefinite period.
On the other hand, repeated instances of infidelity, use of community funds to pay for gifts for the paramour, and the skirting of parenting responsibilities in favor of spending time and attention on the “other” person can lead to a situation where a judge is willing to award you a disproportionate share of the community estate. Spousal support considerations and visitation with your child can also be at stake in certain circumstances where infidelity has occurred. Of course, you would be well served to speak to an attorney to learn more about these issues.
Questions about the role of infidelity on a divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, offer the sort of dependability, advocacy skills, and toughness that you need to be successful in your divorce or child custody case.
We can set up an appointment for you to meet with one of our licensed family law attorneys by contacting our office today. A consultation is free of charge and is available six days per week. We proudly represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family.