It can be a complete shock to learn that your spouse is cheating on you. Forming a bond in marriage is ideally something that lasts a lifetime. Coming to grips with the fact that your spouse is having an affair can change the entire trajectory and quality of your life. Being able to understand how to handle a situation like this can be the difference between having a fulfilling life and constantly being reminded that your spouse has broken their vows and put their self-interests ahead of yours and your family’s.
An instinct that many people have when it comes to attempting to verify the cheating would be to attempt to spy on your spouse to obtain as much evidence as possible to verify that the cheating has occurred. We have all seen movies and television shows where the premise of the movie or show centers around a situation you may be facing. Learning secondhand that your spouse is cheating on you can lead you to firsthand evidence of infidelity. As a result, you may be considering what options you have in front of you to investigate this cheating.
Cheating, or how it is known in the courts as adultery, can also have a significant impact on your divorce case. Many people in your position assume that all it takes to prove adultery is to make an allegation in a divorce petition. However, you would need to be able to provide much more evidence than that to verify to a judge that the cheating has occurred. On top of that, you would also need to show that the adultery has made an impact on your life or on that your child's life. Then, adultery can truly be said to be a meaningful part of your case.
Fault grounds for divorce in Texas
In Texas, you do not need to allege or prove anything in your original petition for divorce to obtain a divorce. Rather, Texas is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you can file for and obtain a divorce for no reason at all. However, if your spouse has cheated on you and committed adultery then you can certainly allege adultery in your original petition for divorce. Adultery is a fault ground for divorce that can impact your case. Most of the time, adultery will impact your case from the perspective of dividing your marital property. Additionally, the payment of spousal maintenance can also be impacted by your spouse has cheated on you.
The most frequent way that we see adultery impacting property division in Texas divorce is regarding how that property is divided. For instance, if your spouse has cheated on you repeatedly, use community resources to purchase gifts for their paramour, or engaged in other bad behavior associated with the adultery then a family court judge may disproportionately divide your community into a state. A disproportionate division of the community estate means that you would stand to receive more property than your spouse. For your case, this would be a just and right division based on the circumstances.
One other bit of information to share regarding spousal maintenance is that Texas does not have anything simply known as alimony. Rather, Texas allows for spouses to negotiate for contractual alimony before a divorce trial. Once a divorce trial is underway only a judge may order spousal maintenance to be paid from 1 spouse to the other. A particular misnomer about spousal maintenance is that it can be awarded by a judge in any circumstance. Rather, there are only specific circumstances in which spousal maintenance can be ordered in a Texas divorce case.
First, you would need to be able to show that you cannot meet your minimum, basic needs with your income or by selling property awarded to you in the divorce. If you are not working or have a job that does not pay sufficient wages to provide you with your necessities, then you may be in line to receive spousal maintenance. You should make sure that you are providing a family court judge with sufficient information about your wages, earnings, and property to verify that you have a proven need for spousal maintenance. Your attorney may want to submit a household budget showing money coming into the house and your monthly bills and other expenditures that are necessary monthly to cement the point that you do need spousal maintenance.
Another factor that can lead to you being eligible for spousal maintenance in Texas divorce would be to show that you cannot work because of a physical or mental disability. The rationale here is that due to your disability you would not be able to work outside the home to provide yourself with sufficient income to pay for your necessities each month. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to hire an expert witness such as a doctor or counselor to testify in a trial to provide a judge with sufficient evidence to show that you are otherwise unable to pay your bills monthly.
Next, you may also be unable to work because you are taking care of a child who has a disability. The same rationale that was applied to an adult with a disability would apply to a child with a disability. Your child's physical and mental limitations may require around-the-clock care. If you cannot work and care for your child at the same time the court may decide that you require spousal maintenance to bridge the gap between your needs and your income. Testimony about the needs of your child, expenses associated with their disability as well as your limitations on working outside the home should be provided to a family court judge.
Finally, in situations where your spouse is committed and active family violence against you or another member of your household within the two years before your divorce then you can also be considered for spousal maintenance. As with everything else we have mentioned today, you would need to be able to present evidence pet shows the family violence and the specifics of the abuse. Family violence in the home may also impact child custody and conservatorships decisions for your family.
How does adultery impact a decision regarding spousal maintenance?
Adultery can be a factor on both sides of the coin when we talk about an award of spousal maintenance for a Texas divorce. If you are the spouse who has engaged in adultery the newer ability to receive spousal maintenance may be decreased as a result of your also having cheated on your spouse. On the other hand, if you are the spouse who expects to have to pay spousal maintenance then you are cheating may increase the amount of maintenance that you have to pay in addition to impacting how Community property may be divided.
How to proceed if you think that your spouse is cheating on you
We have already talked about how spying on your spouse is a common thought that many people have when it comes to wanting to prove an allegation regarding infidelity. There certainly are methods to do this using the technology of today and people in your position can oftentimes go to extreme lengths when it comes to trying to make sure that this type of activity is monitored closely. A simple Internet search can reveal multiple types of technology as well as tips on how to track the physical and digital movements of another person.
We would usually be talking about using technology that can help you to get between your spouse and the intended recipient of an e-mail, phone call, or text message. Bear in mind that this type of action is illegal in Texas in is subject to felony charges if brought to court. Additionally, you cannot hire another person to do this for you and then use the evidence in your divorce trial period therefore, probably the most simple and straightforward methods of communication surveillance are not advisable in Texas.
However, the result is that you may not even need direct evidence of cheating to prove your case in a Texas family law court. You are likely going to be able to use secondhand evidence in a trial to show a judge that cheating has occurred. It may require asking a person to come and testify in court on your behalf or even submitting checking account statements or other account information to show that it appears cheating is ongoing. This is the type of thing that you have hired if family law attorney for and you should consult with him or her regarding the alleged adultery to learn the most cost-effective and efficient manner to move forward when it comes to proving that cheating has occurred. Simply downloading your telephone usage and the bill can show a judge how long Certain phone calls took to complete and the times of day when the phone calls occurred.
Social media and adultery
more and more these days we are seeing how social media usage can lead to situations where adultery is more likely to occur. Simply putting yourself in a position where you are online and able to contact just about anyone in the world is asking for trouble for certain people. It will be very simple for your spell to reach out to someone that they used to go to school with or even someone in your community and to start a relationship. If your spouse is going online more often this should be something that you keep an eye on especially if you already have concerns about infidelity in the relationship.
The great part about social media is that information that is posted on social media is all public. If your spouse does not have any privacy filters on their profile, then you may be in a position where you can obtain credible evidence without having to break the law. Social media posts in the history of social media usage can be utilized to your advantage if you are trying to prove that Adultery has occurred.
This can be done regarding something as simple as your spouse being featured in photographs with the person that you suspect he or she is having an ongoing affair with. Many times, your spouse may be wary of engaging in behavior like this. He or she may ask their significant other to not post photographs or to check with him or her first before doing so. In other cases, he or she may be less meticulous about checking on the posting of photos and a photo of your spouse and this other person may come into your orbit.
Additionally, in certain circumstances, your child may even be able to provide testimony about the subject of any interactions that he or she has had with your spouse and their significant other. It is a tricky situation, however, to ask your child to come in and testify about matters like this. A judge may not want to hear from your child about subject matter like this. for the most part, parents are usually not in favor of putting their child in the middle of such a difficult situation. You should certainly consider who may be able to testify on your behalf to the cheating and begin to talk to your lawyer about this on an ongoing basis.
The bottom line is that there are many ways for you to effectively show a judge that adultery is occurring in your home. There is no set or preferred way for a court 2 take in evidence regarding adultery. Technology has opened the door to your being able to prove adultery in a handful of different ways. However, you would still need to prepare yourself for this part of the case and to work with your attorney to develop a strategy that can serve both new and your children while accomplishing whatever goals you have set for yourself within the case.
What will adultery mean for your case?
Infidelity and adultery are never easy to learn about. For many of you who are reading today's blog post, your marriage may have otherwise seemed like it was going quite well before you learned the adultery. Learning about adultery can be a Point of no return when it comes to working towards an end to the marriage. Learning that your spouse has been unfaithful to you cuts to the core of the trust that is supposed to be part of a marriage. For many of us, the breaking of that bond of trust can be enough to end the marriage itself at that very moment. From there, it is only a matter of legality and the marriage after the marriage has ended from an emotional perspective.
Adultery is important to a divorce in circumstances that involve spousal maintenance, property division, and a limited degree when it comes to child custody. Therefore, if yours is a relatively straightforward divorce with few moving pieces as far as outstanding issues then you should consider whether making adultery part of the case is worth the effort. For example, if you have little to no property to divide and no need for spousal maintenance then introducing adultery into your original petition for divorce may needlessly complicate the case.
Additionally, if you do not have minor children involved in the divorce then there may be even less of a reason to initiate the case with adultery as part of the subject matter. This does not mean that you are forgiving your spouse for the adultery or that you are condoning their behavior. Rather, at a certain point, a divorce becomes a business transaction. Undoubtedly there are emotions associated with every divorce period to say that you can completely remove the emotion out of a divorce case would be a falsehood. Marriages are based on love and other emotions and adultery cut right to the core of those issues.
You should speak with your experienced family law attorney before deciding how, if at all, to move forward when it comes to an issue regarding divorce and adultery. In certain circumstances, adultery can be a major issue, and proving it can be an important consideration. In other circumstances, you may be better off proceeding with your divorce without ever having included divorce as an issue to be adjudicated by a judge. The specific circumstances of your case should be viewed closely before deciding how if at all, you should proceed with adultery as being a fault ground or issue in your Texas divorce case.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.