Adultery Laws in Texas
“Adultery” is defined as having voluntary sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s spouse. Under Texas civil laws, adultery can impact alimony and property division, though it does not usually impact child custody unless the cheating spouse abandoned their children to have the affair.
If your spouse cheated and you want to use the infidelity to deny alimony, be prepared to show the court proof. While it’s nearly impossible to catch a spouse in the act, circumstantial evidence, such as credit card receipts, text messages, photographs, emails, videos, phone records, and bank statements usually suffice.
If you are headed toward divorce and your marriage involved adultery, you may be wondering if the infidelity can have an impact on alimony. This is a valid question and since so many marriages are affected by cheating, it’s one question that comes up a lot.
Each state treats marital misconduct differently. Texas happens to be a mixed state, which means the Texas courts grant both fault-based and no-fault divorces. While some states, such as California, will not let evidence of cheating influence an alimony award, we’re not in California. We’re in Texas where the courts frown heavily on adultery, even if it occurs while the couple is separated and the divorce action is pending.
Who is Entitled to Alimony?
Alimony is not awarded automatically in a Texas divorce. For someone to receive alimony, different factors need to exist. For one, the spouse asking for the alimony should have a need for it.
Second, the lower-earning spouse must have at least one of these situations:
- They were a victim of domestic violence in the past two years;
- The couple has been married for at least 10 years and the lower-earning spouse needs alimony to get back on their feet;
- The spouse asking for alimony is disabled and it affects their earning ability, OR
- The spouse seeking alimony is unable to work because he or she has to care for a disabled child.
In Texas, alimony awards cannot exceed 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly (gross) income, or $5,000 a month, whichever is less. The state does not have a specific formula for calculating alimony and it’s awarded on a case-by-case basis.
“Can an adulterous spouse be denied alimony?” Yes, absolutely. If it can be proven that the spouse asking for alimony cheated, the court can deny that spouse alimony, even if he or she would otherwise be entitled to it. An extra-marital relationship can also impact property division, particularly when the cheating spouse wasted marital funds on their paramour; for example, on vacations, rent, bills, hotels, gifts, jewelry, cars, etc.
To learn more about how adultery can impact divorce in Denton, Texas, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.