There are lots of reasons to get a divorce. I meet with folks that have gone through severe problems in their marriages over many years. These people have sought counseling, therapy, and everything in between to help them work on their problems in the hope of salvaging their marriage. Still, other people have been married for just a few months when they realize that the person they married is not who they made themselves out to be, and now divorce is probably for the best.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum of divorces that I outlined above, understand that in the state of Texas, you can get a divorce for any reason- or no reason- at all. Texas is known as a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that you do not have to cite a specific ground for your divorce in your Original Petition for Divorce. While you certainly can tell the judge that you want a divorce because your spouse abused or you or abandoned you, for the most part, a simple conflict of personalities leads to most divorces in Texas.
You may be wondering- if you can get a divorce for no reason at all, then what is the benefit of stating a specific reason for wanting a divorce? That will be the purpose of today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We will discuss the topic of adultery and how that can impact your case before we transition into some points, I would like to make on dating during your divorce case.
Adultery can impact your divorce case significantly.
If your spouse commits adultery against you, then you have it within your power as a citizen of Texas to not only request a divorce from your spouse but to request what is known as a disproportionate share of the community estate that you and your spouse own together. Let’s break this down a little to understand what I mean by “disproportionate” and “community estate.”
Disproportionate refers to simply a greater than fifty percent share of the community estate. The community estate encompasses property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. All property is presumed to be community property in Texas. This means that unless you or your spouse put forth evidence showing the property is owned by one of you separately, it will fall into the category of community property for your divorce.
This is the case because the state of Texas acknowledges that sometimes infidelity can not only be a breaking of the bond of trust between you and your spouse, but it can also be a breaking of the financial bond between you and your spouse. For example, if your spouse took out sums of money from your joint bank account to pay for a trip for him and his paramour to take, this will affect how a judge awards the remaining portion of your community estate in the divorce case.
When does dating become adultery?
Just because you have filed for divorce from your spouse does not mean that you are no longer married to that person. Until your judge signs their name to the final orders in your case (known as a Final Decree of Divorce), you are not divorced. This means that if you were to start dating another person during your divorce, a court could consider this to be infidelity, and it could trigger the sort of analysis we just went through regarding a division of your community state in a manner that does not favor you.
At the very least, a court can order that any money your spouse spent on their paramour must be reimbursed to your community estate even if a disproportionate award of community property does not come into play.
Dating during divorce: Stay away until the ink has dried on your Final Decree of divorce.
Your divorce case will not be fun. You probably already knew this, but I am here to confirm that suspicion for you. No matter what circumstances you have apparent in your life, it will not be easy to go through your divorce. This is true even for spouses that get along reasonably well and do not have a ton of simmering anger or resentment towards the other under the surface of their case.
If you consider whether or not you should begin a relationship during your divorce, I am here to argue against doing so. The challenges that you will encounter as a result of entering into a dating relationship with another person during your divorce will cause entirely avoidable issues. While you may feel emotionally ready to start dating, you may not be. Secondly, no matter if you are or are not, a judge will not look favorably upon your doing so- especially if you have children.
Through my years of representing people in divorces, I have learned that it is more common than you would think for people to casually mention that they are dating someone even before their divorce has begun. While you may think that your circumstances allow a relationship to continue into a divorce case, I can promise you that they do not.
What does your spouse know?
On the other hand, our office had represented many spouses who are fully aware that their husband or wife has been carrying on an extramarital affair for some time before either person became severe about moving towards a divorce. If you and your spouse have been separated, this love triangle may have functioned well enough, but the arrangement will cause problems for you in a divorce.
Problems do not only mean that your spouse will be upset and angry with you, but those emotions will likely translate into a more prolonged and more highly contested case. Translation: extramarital relationship = anger = lengthier and more contested divorce = much more money spent on your divorce than is probably necessary.
What do you need to tell your divorce attorney about a spouse’s relationship?
Whatever you know about your spouse’s relationship with another person needs to be disclosed to your attorney, no matter how embarrassing it may be. Don’t think that something isn’t relevant to your discussion. Let your attorney make that determination. How much money has your spouse spent on this person? Do you have bank account records and transactions to back up what you are saying? If you have limited access to this information, you can request documents on these subjects in discovery.
A judge may not be that harsh, but your spouse will
Keep in mind that very few divorce cases in Texas go to trial. This means that the judge in your case will likely never make any decisions regarding subject matter associated with your or your spouse’s dating activities during your marriage. When you attempt to settle your case outside of court, you will be asking the person who was wronged by your actions to settle your case fairly. I think you can tell that this will not be easy, and your spouse will have little to no desire to work with you if you have wronged them by dating another person during your marriage.
The bottom line is that the person you want to have a relationship with during your marriage will likely be just as available and interested after your divorce has concluded. Do not add fuel to the fire of your divorce by engaging with them while your case is pending. Your life will be made immeasurably more complicated by doing so.
Questions about dating during divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, have had the privilege to represent a wide variety of clients in our practice of family law in Texas. No matter your particular circumstances, we have the experience you need to be well represented in your divorce case. To learn more about your case and our office, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys.