One of the most common reasons why people get divorced is infidelity by one or both spouses. In an age where temptation in that regard is everywhere in our lives, it can be a constant source of stress and hardship in marriage when you suspect that your spouse is cheating on you. There is the obvious concern over the physical aspects of cheating as well as the financial infidelity that sometimes comes with cheating to consider, as well.
When we hear the word, “infidelity,” we usually think about the physical aspects of being intimate with another person who is not our spouse. There are countless movie and television shows whose plots revolve around this type of infidelity. Odds are that if we are talking about a friend or co-worker who got caught having an affair it is related to physical acts of infidelity. In short, the intimate nature of infidelity can be enough to cause a marriage to fail in and of itself. Infidelity is a betrayal of trust on many levels.
One of those levels of betrayal that isn’t widely considered are the financial aspects of infidelity. On many occasions, infidelity can turn into habitual infidelity or even a relationship. Your spouse develops feelings for this person and after a while, a relationship emerges from what was at first a physical interaction only. With this relationship comes everything that goes along with dating someone. Think back to when you and your spouse began your relationship. The courtship stage of a relationship can be the most expensive for one or both partners.
You need to be aware of the potential fallout of an adulterous relationship that your spouse is or was in could be that he spent money on their new romantic interest. Dinners at restaurants, jewelry, gifts of any sort, hotel stays, etc. The list goes on and on. You don't need me to tell you all the way that your spouse could hypothetically spend money on their paramour. Suffice it to say that the overall "investment" in this person can be substantial.
What to do after finding out about adultery in your marriage
When this is happening, you need to think before you act. It is normal to feel a range of emotions about your spouse currently. Try to be as deliberate as possible when it comes to how you approach him or her after the adultery has been discovered. There are a couple of different ways that you could approach the issue once you find out that your spouse has been unfaithful to you.
The first consideration would be to think about whether or not the marriage is over. This would be considering all the circumstances of your life, how you feel about the infidelity, and whether or not you think you can commit to working on your marriage. Even if you feel like you want to try and save your marriage you would need to discuss this with your spouse and discuss whether or not your spouse feels the same way.
Counseling with a marriage or family therapist is a place where many couples turn once infidelity has been discovered in the relationship. If your spouse is willing to attend counseling then you may have an opportunity to save your marriage. If not, then you may be looking at a divorce, unfortunately. A counselor or therapist can be found through your health insurance provider or even through your church.
On the other hand, if it is more likely than not that divorce is upcoming then you need to be intentional about the steps you take in this regard, as well. For instance, you need to start collecting evidence of adultery. There are things called fault grounds for divorce that we will discuss later in today’s blog post. These are specific grounds or reasons for why you are filing the divorce. Asserting a particular fault ground and then proving it with evidence can allow you to receive a disproportionate share of your community estate when all is said and done. This means you would walk away from the divorce with more than half of your marital property.
At the very least, you should log in to your bank account and see if you can determine what sort of money has been spent on this other person. This is easy enough when you and your spouse share a bank account. You may have even seen warning signs that didn't make sense previously but are now crystal clear. Look through your bank account to see if you can spot charges on your credit card that are out of character or in odd amounts. Cash withdrawals that line up with times that your spouse was not in the house can also make more sense given the proof of infidelity.
You are collecting evidence to prove the fault ground of adultery or to at least be able to seek reimbursement from your spouse's separate estate to pay back your community estate. Your spouse was using community income to buy things for their paramour. Since that money is just as much yours as it is your spouse's, he could be in line for having to pay back your community estate for having done so. This is known as reimbursement.
These are just some of the considerations that you need to bear in mind as you learn more about adultery. What you do after that- addressing it directly with your spouse, moving out of the home, taking your children to another place- is completely up to you. You know your circumstances better than anyone and we would be speculating here to say what would suit you best. However, if it is a divorce that you are gearing up for there is one piece of information I would like to pass along. You need a good attorney to help you manage your case-especially when infidelity is part of things.
If you are considering divorce as a result of infidelity on the part of your spouse then you need to have all your ducks in order. Going into a divorce without a plan is a bad course of action to take. Do not expect to wander your way into a divorce and to be able to wander out while also achieving any of your goals. Having an attorney by your side throughout the case does not mean giving him or her all the decision-making ability in your case. Rather, the attorney teaches you about the process, shares relevant information, and helps you to make decisions that are best for you and your children.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has a team of attorneys who are uniquely suited to assist you throughout your divorce. Whatever circumstances you are facing our attorneys can help you develop a plan to achieve the divorce you need. You can contact our office today for a free-of-charge consultation, as well. These consultations can be had with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. Answering questions and providing the information is what we do in these consultations.
How does the state of Texas define adultery?
The Texas Family Code defines adultery as the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with another person who is not the spouse. While you may have a good idea that cheating of this nature has occurred you must still produce evidence to be able to substantiate an allegation of adultery that you made in your Original Petition for Divorce. This is oftentimes the tricky part. Not only must you find evidence to prove the adultery occurred, but you must be able to have that evidence admitted into the record for the judge to consider. Let’s talk about how to do this.
To be able to prove adultery in Texas you need to show that the infidelity occurred during your marriage. This may seem like something fairly obvious, but I have had people try to talk to me about infidelity that occurred while the two spouses were dating or infidelity during the engagement process. For it to be relevant to a Texas family court the infidelity must have occurred while you and your spouse were married.
Keep in mind that while you are "separated" from your spouse you are still technically married. Some states have a formal period known as separation where different rules go into effect for those periods. However, Texas is not one of those states. It is recommended that you not start dating or getting involved romantically during the divorce itself. It can complicate your case and make life generally more difficult for all parties involved.
Next, consider that the sort of evidence that is best for your case will be direct evidence of adultery. We rely so much, at least initially, on circumstantial or hearsay-type evidence to prove allegations of adultery but that won't work so well when it comes to being able to prove the adultery in a courtroom. Rather, it is best to be able to present direct evidence that makes the case for adultery in clear and convincing terms. If a judge must read between the lines or even make assumptions about what a message, credit card charge, or photograph means then it is likely that the adultery fault ground will not hold up in court.
Therefore, it is so important to have a plan on how to prove adultery. There are several different sources of potential evidence that you and your attorney need to be able to take advantage of when it comes to proving adultery in your case. Remember that the potential impact of an adultery fault ground can be substantial when it comes to the division of your marital estate as well as regarding custody/conservatorship of your child. It pays (literally and figuratively) to put in the world to be able to prove an adultery fault ground.
Documentary evidence is sort of an "old school" way of digging up dirt on your spouse and their adultery. Credit card bills showing stays at hotels or trips out of town can be submitted (once authenticated) to be able to show an adulterous affair. Receipts from jewelry stores or other shopping adventures can substantiate an allegation of an affair. I have seen spouses co-sign car loans or another financing for their significant others. If you and your attorney can get a hold of this sort of documentary evidence, then you will be well positioned for proving a fault ground for divorce. Keep in mind, however, that the way you obtain information and evidence is important. Talk with your attorney about how you will go about collecting evidence to make sure you are doing so in a way that will not create an admissibility issue.
Electronic mail (Email) is a more modern way to catch your spouse in the middle of an adulterous act- or at least in the planning or discussion phase of an adulterous act. We use email so casually almost like it is a phone call. However, the reality of an email is that even if you delete the email the recipient of your messages still can have the email and your email provider keeps track of what you send. Emails are easy to print out, track and organize. Unfortunately, your emails are also easy to get a hold of. If your spouse used email to discuss plans or get-togethers with their love interest, then you should speak to your attorney about how to get those emails- legally.
Text messages work similarly to email in terms of how your spouse may use the written word to contact their paramour. The thing about text messaging is that it is even easier to send spur-of-the-moment messages with no filter involved. Picking up the phone, dialing a phone number, making small talk- these are all barriers to your spouse or anyone else saying something that they may regret over the phone. There's no friction like that with a text message. Pick up your cell phone and let your thumbs get to work. It's easy and quick. Your spouse may say things via text that he or she may regret which could be to your advantage. Another advantage is that if you and your spouse share a cell phone plan then it is easier than you might think to get a copy of their text messages without much fuss.
Social media is the big one when it comes to trying to collect evidence related to your spouse's infidelity. We are very casual about social media, for the most part. We post photos, status updates, and a host of other things without thinking twice. Unfortunately, sometimes we get a little too comfortable and end up posting things that we wish we hadn't. This applies twice as much to situations where your spouse is having an affair. Even if he or she is careful about what they post that doesn't mean that a friend of theirs will be. If you know that your spouse is a frequent user of social media, it makes sense to keep track of their movements there.
Photos on your spouse's phone are another way to gain an insight into what he or she is doing. Most of the time spouses who are engaging in infidelity don't leave much of a paper trail as far as photos are concerned but you may find yourself in a position where your spouse lets the cat out of the bag. Check with your cell phone provider to see if you can view your spouse's photos without having to get on their phone. If your spouse always takes their phone with them places, even when it’s just to get a drink of water at home, and never leaves it with you that may be a sign that there is something on the phone that your spouse doesn’t want you to see.
Is adultery against the law in Texas?
No, adultery is not against the law in Texas. However, infidelity can and often does play a role when dividing property in a Texas divorce. If you can prove that your spouse not only committed adultery but also that infidelity impacted your marital finances or your children, then you can gain an advantage in your divorce in multiple ways. Most specifically, you may be in line to receive an increase in the amount of community property that you would be able to receive in a potential divorce.
Questions about adultery? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Our attorneys understand that you may be feeling a lot of emotions about infidelity in your marriage. We are here to share our experience with you when it comes to helping you prepare a case and understand the family laws of Texas better. That is what we are- attorneys, counselors, and advocates.
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's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit.