Today I’m going to share with you Is Adultery a Crime in Texas? Directly from Texas Lawyers.
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Adultery can be defined in the simplest words as extramarital sex. It is voluntary sexual intercourse or debatably intimate encounter between a married person with someone who is not their legal spouse. Broadly, adultery is considered wrong on all ethical and moral grounds and thus is a prevalent social taboo but nonetheless the way the law identifies adultery differs from state to state.
So, the question arises, is adultery a crime in Texas? What happens if you commit adultery? Does adultery affect child custody in Texas, what about spousal support? Does adultery affect it too? Let’s take an in-depth look.
Is Adultery a Crime in Texas?
Adultery and Divorce:
It is safe to assume that adultery occurs in unhappy marriages and most marriages that face adultery from either side end in divorce which is the legal termination of their union. Divorce is a messy procedure. It is time-consuming, energy-draining and it is very well capable of burning a deep hole in your pocket.
If a spouse commits adultery but wants to avoid the hassle of court hearings and battles, there is an option of drafting a marital settlement agreement that is approved and finalized by both parties. It is then submitted to the court to be approved by a judge.
If approved, the settlement agreement is passed and a divorce decree is issued, just like it would after the required court hearings. Even though this possibility does exist, adultery leads to increased emotions of anger and resentment which rules out the possibility of any negotiation and mediation which clears the path for an ugly battle in court.
This is what happens if you commit adultery, get a good lawyer and be prepared for the worst. Being well informed about your rights and opportunities that you might be entitled to, whichever side of the infidelity you might be a part of, always helps keep you prepared.
Texas’s Definition of Adultery:
Is it illegal to cheat on your spouse in Texas? Before we answer that, let’s first understand how Texas defines and identifies adultery. Even though there is no Texan definition, we can infer that under Texas family code section 6.003 adultery iS defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person with someone who is not his or her spouse.
The action needs to be proved in court and the person who is the infidel needs to have voluntarily, under no force been a part of the affair to be held responsible for the same.
The Legality of Adultery:
Even though adultery is looked down on by the majority of society, the legal standpoint of adultery is a heated debate. So, it is natural to ponder, is it illegal to cheat on your spouse in Texas?
In Texas, adultery does not violate any Texas Family Code’s civil laws. Meaning, there will be no criminal record on the basis of adultery. But adultery is recognized by Texas family law. If your spouse cheats, what happens in a divorce?
There are a lot of ways through which it tries to hold the cheating spouse responsible for their immoral actions. A few of said ways are its effects on the division of property, sharing of marital assets, etc.
21 states have ruled down adultery as a crime. It is generally written as a misdemeanour. Misdemeanour is defined as a criminal offence that carries up to a year in jail.
Following are states where adultery is still a crime: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Some other states also see adultery as a felony. In comparison, felonies are the more serious type of criminal offence.
While understanding felonies, it is important to note that misdemeanours can be raised up to the level of felonies in many states for second-time offenders in many states. Examples of said states which see adultery as felonies are: Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
It should be noted that the court may also grant a divorce in the favor of the non-cheating spouse.
Is Texas a No-Fault Marriage State?
Now comes the almost inevitable divorce after the affair. Divorce is a complex legal procedure and is also viewed differently in different states. One such ground of distinction is a fault and no-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce is a separate procedure that does not blame anyone party for the split. Under this new divorce law, couples are allowed to terminate their union solely on the basis that the marriage is just not working out anymore.
Before these laws came into motion, a married couple had to present an acceptable reason, often referred to as the grounds of divorce to the court for it to review and decide if the couple will be granted a divorce or not.
California became the first state in the united states of America to legalize no-fault divorces. Slowly and gradually other states became open to accepting no-fault meaning incompatibility or breaking down of a marriage due to irreconcilable reasons as valid grounds for divorce as well and as of now, no-fault divorces are available in all fifty states of the U.S..
Summing up, is Texas a no-fault marriage state? Indeed it is. At the same time, it should be noted that even though Texas allows no-fault divorces, if a spouse commits adultery, the other spouse can still go ahead and file for a fault divorce where you can present your stand that it was your significant other’s immoral or unacceptable behaviour that caused the split in your opinion. So, the next question in order is how to prove adultery in texas?
Proving Adultery in Texas:
Even though adultery is looked down on by society and has its own sets of repercussions, both socially and legally, proving adultery in Texas is not as easy as it seems. While accepting adultery in court, the definition stated by the Texas Family code, as stated before is taken in consideration which only rules involuntary sexual intercourse in its realm.
So emotional infidelity along with physical infidelity in the form of kissing, groping and even oral sex is not enough for proving adultery in the Texas court of law. So, how to prove adultery in Texas?
If a spouse commits adultery, even if there is proof of exchange of provocative photographs or videos, sexts or sexual conversations on any platform of one spouse with someone other than their legal significant other, it is not seen as adultery in terms of Texas laws irrespective of how the society views it.
And for the very same reasons, proving adultery in court is a harder hassle than you would like it to be and can be really frustrating for the non-cheating spouse. If a spouse commits adultery, word of mouth or allegations from their former spouse are never enough for proving the same in Texas or any other state for that matter.
So, how to prove adultery in Texas? Ample and hard evidence is required to prove the identity of either party. It is best to talk and consult a divorce attorney, who preferably has dealt with sufficient divorce cases to know what has more odds of working in court. Ensure that you are only using reasonable and proper evidence to build your case.
Evidence might include but are not limited to the following: phone records, texts, emails, photos and videos, bank or credit card statements that clearly support your allegations towards your cheating spouse i.e. he or she having sexual intercourse with someone who is not themselves. Many people even go as far as hiring a private investigator to get this type of evidence.
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Effect of Adultery on Divorce:
Now that we have established that adultery is not a punishable crime on its own, let’s understand its direct and indirect impacts on divorce proceedings. What happens if you commit adultery? According to the Texas Family Code, adultery on its own does not:
- Make the non-cheating spouse eligible for spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony.
- Give an added advantage to the non-cheating spouse in the child custody battle.
If a spouse commits adultery, it does not directly impact the parameters stated above, if proven, they do affect the final judgment of divorce settlement in many cases under particular circumstances. Let’s dive into these effects in detail.
Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Texas?
What happens if you commit adultery? As mentioned above, if a spouse commits adultery, just the proven act of adultery in court doesn’t deprive them of the right to fight and present a case for the legal guardianship of their child but it can affect the final judgment on the basis of the new person in the unfaithful spouse’s life.
This is prevalent in cases where the new person involved is a sex offender, or has had a violent or substance abuse or distribution record.
Even former issues with child protective services are frowned upon in court. Whatever the circumstance, the final judgment is solely based on the best interests of the child, if a spouse commits adultery or otherwise. What is best for the child is subjective and thus can be affected by these factors.
It is crucial to include the new person in the evaluation for the child custody case as they might become a part of the child’s life as well and their involvement is evaluated in the child’s potential development in the future.
If the partner does not have a rough past, the court does not discriminate against the cheating spouse in any way if he or she is capable of taking care of themselves and the child’s needs. If the child custody battle was to end in favour of the infidel spouse, the judge may allow the faithful one more rights and time with their child, acknowledging the cheating situation.
What happens if you commit adultery? Does it affect your share of the property you owned with your former partner?It is important to keep in mind that Texas is a community property state by definition, meaning that the marital or shared property of the couple is to be divided equally between both parties after the split.
In cases where adultery is proven in court, the judge can undertake the “just and right” property clauses of Texas Family law under Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 7.001. In such cases, the judge can rightfully do a disproportionate split of marital property on the basis of proven adultery.
If a spouse commits adultery and uses their shared funds with their legal partner to aid the affair or provide gifts or trips to the cheater’s partner along with clear proof that the major grounds for divorce was the infidelity of your spouse.
Alimony or Spousal Maintenance:
Alimony is best described as the legally obliged sum of money that is to be provided by one spouse, decided by the court to the other as maintenance money to ensure that the latter can make their ends meet. It is generally provided by the financially better off spouse to the other, who may have been dependent on the former during their marriage.
If a spouse commits adultery, is alimony affected? Alimony approval in Texas is an extremely strict matter. Texas courts only award alimony under specific circumstances. At least one of the following conditions need to be met in order for alimony to be approved in court:
- As determined by the court, the spouse expected to pay alimony has to have committed domestic violence within a two-year window of the filing of divorce according to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.052.
- The marriage should have lasted for ten years at the least and either one of the spouses should lack the personal income to pay for his or her own basic expenses.
- The spouse who is claiming alimony should be undergoing a physical or mental disability that is preventing them from working and making ends meet on their own.
- The spouse to receive spousal maintenance should be taking care of a child with some disability which prevents them from working and earning money according to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051.
If the spouse requesting alimony is not strictly falling under either of the above categories, the judge will not award alimony, even if a spouse commits adultery during marriage.
It should be noted that a judge won’t award alimony of more than twenty percent of the paying spouse’s monthly income or five thousand dollars, whichever option is lower in correspondence to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.055.
The court does not have a standard alimony calculator and is assigned by the judge after evaluating each unique case. According to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.057., Texas courts also allow a change in the alimony arrangement if the situation of the spouse paying the spousal maintenance changes in the future.
Now that we have understood how alimony granting works in divorce courts in Texas, let’s understand the effect adultery has on the procedure. If a spouse commits adultery and it is proven in court, the judge can very well deny alimony, if requested, regardless of the spouse’s financial needs.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Some frequently asked questions revolving around “Is adultery a crime in Texas?” have been answered below:
1. Is It Illegal to Cheat on Your Spouse in Texas?
Even though adultery is recognised by Texas law, it doesn’t count for a criminal record. It might affect other legal proceedings indirectly.
2. How to Prove Adultery in Texas?
Any sort of evidence in the form of texts, photos, videos, etc that clearly indicates that one spouse had voluntary sexual intercourse with someone who wasn’t their legal significant other can be used to prove adultery in Texas.
3. If a Woman Commits Adultery, What Is She Entitled To?
Men and women are treated equally by the law when it comes to adultery.
4. Is Texas a No-Fault Marriage State?
Yes, Texas indeed allows no-fault divorces.
5. Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Texas?
Adultery doesn’t directly affect child custody, but if the cheating spouse’s new significant other has a torrid past, it may be seen as a potential hindrance in the child’s development which is the sole basis on which child custody verdicts are given.
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Ending the Article:
No one can deny that divorce is an emotionally tormenting process and it definitely gets worse if a spouse commits adultery and infidelity gets involved. Anger and resentment tend to get a grip on the faithful party and can impact their stand in court negatively.
For the very same reason, it is important to stay calm and collected during divorce proceedings, regularly consulting divorce attorneys regarding any interaction that may happen with the cheating spouse, surrounding oneself with people that one loves and trusts and having a well-researched and informed approach to the entire process.