Going through a divorce in Texas is already a complicated matter. Like all other states, Texas allows individuals to file for a no-fault marital dissolution if the soon-to-be-former couple wants to simplify matters. However, the Lone Star State also allows at-fault divorces. This often leads both parties in such a case to ask whether adultery is illegal in Texas. To put it simply, the answer is complicated.
That’s because there are differences in criminal and civil law. While someone may never find themselves behind prison bars for cheating on their spouse, it doesn’t mean there can’t be serious legal repercussions for such actions.
Is Adultery a Crime in Texas?
While infidelity is still considered a crime in many states — albeit a rarely enforced one — Texas does not fall into this category. This means an individual can be unfaithful to their spouse with no fear of facing criminal proceedings. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t potential consequences to such acts. For instance, it’s possible for someone to sue their spouse in Texas courts after acts of infidelity.
That’s because Texas recognizes Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress as a valid legal claim. There are certain requirements that must be met before such a case can be successful, but if proven, an injured spouse can recover financial compensation from their unfaithful partner. This means that — although adultery is not a crime in Texas — the act of infidelity can still carry significant legal consequences.
Can Adultery Affect Your Divorce Proceedings?
In addition to potential lawsuits regarding adultery, cases of infidelity in marriages can also directly affect divorce proceedings. That’s because Texas allows marital dissolutions on both an at-fault and no-fault basis. This means two spouses could handle their divorce amicably by simply abiding by Texas community property laws — or one partner could choose to state that the other was at fault for the end of the relationship.
In such cases, a Houston divorce attorney can prove invaluable. For those claiming that adultery occurred, it’s necessary to prove their claims in a court of law. While adultery isn’t illegal in Texas, evidentiary standards still exist if one spouse hopes to prove infidelity. Such evidence must show that the unfaithful individual engaged in consensual sexual activity with someone other than their spouse and that the act was a direct cause of the divorce
How Does Adultery Affect Texas Divorce Proceedings?
If adultery is proven by one spouse in court, it can seriously affect the outcome of divorce proceedings. For instance, a court may decide that one party is entitled to a higher amount of alimony or more assets from property division if it’s proven that their spouse was unfaithful. Infidelity can also affect the amount of alimony a person is entitled to, but it cannot affect whether that person is eligible to receive alimony payments.
It’s also important to recognize that — since adultery is not a crime in Texas — it typically cannot be used to make child support or custodial rulings. However, cheating can play a role in such decisions if the unfaithful spouse’s new love interest has a criminal history or is otherwise unsafe for a child to be around. Clearly, adultery can be a complicated issue in Texas divorce cases. Our team of Houston family law attorneys can help you navigate these complex waters.