What is Adultery and What Are Its Effects in a Texas Divorce Proceeding?
Adultery is considered to be a legal term as well as a term that has come into general vocabulary. However, as a legal matter, it means as set forth in Texas Family Code § 6.003 the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with another who is not their spouse. It is important to note that this definition has been rigidly applied and this can highlight the difference between the legal definition of the term adultery and the common usage of the term. While many would believe that it would be adulterous to exchange illicit messages, photos, and even kissing, and oral sex, it is legally inaccurate to call such acts adultery. In Texas, adultery requires sexual intercourse.
While in the past adultery was heavily considered as a grounds for divorce, today under Texas’s no-fault divorce system, it is less consequential than it was in the past. However, a judge will consider evidence of adultery when they are considering alimony payments as well as when dividing property.
At the Queenan Law Firm, a Dallas divorce attorney will tenaciously pursue every case we handle. Regardless of whether you come to us for assistance with a divorce, a custody dispute, a conflict over property distribution, or you simply have questions about what to include in your prenuptial agreement, we will educate you about your responsibilities while advocating for your rights to the fullest extent possible. If contention exists between you and your spouse, we aim to use our litigation skills to resolve the dispute in your best interest and that of your children.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
Texas is a no-fault divorce state which means that either party can file for divorce without having to cite a specific reason for the divorce. However, there are certain acts which can serve as the grounds for a divorce under Texas law. Pursuant to the Texas Family Code § 6.001 – 6.007, there are seven grounds for divorce in Texas. The grounds for divorce in Texas are as follows:
Insupportability – Insupportability means “discord or conflict or personalities” that has prevented any “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.” This means that the marriage can no longer continue because of disagreements between the spouses that cannot be resolved.
Cruelty – Cruelty can also be the grounds for divorce in Texas when one spouse is guilty of “cruel treatment”.
Adultery – Adultery is itself a grounds for divorce in Texas.
A felony conviction – A felony conviction can be the grounds for divorce in Texas. When one spouse during the course of the marriage has been convicted of a felony and they are imprisoned for at least one year, a spouse may file for divorce on this ground.
Abandonment – when one spouse leaves the other or abandons the other for at least one year the other spouse may file for divorce.
Living apart – When spouses live apart, meaning they do not cohabitate, for at least three years, this may be the basis for a divorce in Texas.
Confinement in Mental Hospital – If a spouse is confined in either a state or private mental hospital for at least three years, and it appears that their mental condition and state will never improve to a point where they can function on their own, or alternatively it appears that despite an improvement in condition there is a probability that there will be a relapse then this may be a grounds for divorce.
While adultery can be used as a grounds for divorce it is not necessary for any spouse to prove that the other has committed adultery. However, there may be reasons why a spouse may want to allege adultery. One of the most significant reasons why a spouse may want to claim the other has committed adultery is for the personal vindication. However, there are also legal reasons why a spouse may want to demonstrate to the court that the other spouse as engaged in adultery. This is because a judge has more latitude to divide property when adultery is proven. A judge may award more than 50 percent of the property if it can be demonstrated that one spouse engaged in an extramarital affair.
If You Are a Party to a Divorce Proceeding in Texas, a Dallas Divorce Attorney Can Help
To set up a free legal consultation about your family law matter, call the Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797. With more than 20 years of legal experience successfully representing clients throughout Texas, our attorneys are always eager to put our knowledge and skill to work for you.