Can an affair impact your divorce?

An affair certainly can lead to a divorce. Perhaps you came home one night, when you had planned to stay late at the office, and found your spouse with a paramour. Maybe you had suspected it for some time, but you did not know for sure until that fateful evening.

From the moment you opened the door, you knew your marriage was over. All you have to do now is go through the legal process of ending it.

You may feel like the divorce is your chance to get even with your ex or to get revenge. If your spouse cheated, for instance, you assume you can get alimony payments or decide to take every asset that you can. You feel angry at the betrayal and assume the court will see it your way.

But is that actually how it works?

Courts do not care about infidelity

The reality is that courts do not care about who was unfaithful during the marriage, at least when considering things like asset division and alimony. There are stories about people who have paid alimony to spouses who cheated on them. Those people ended the marriages with their actions, but they still got payments because the court just looks at the financial picture. If the cheating spouse did not work and needs financial support after giving up a career, while the other spouse has a great job, that is all the judge cares about.

The same is true with property division. Texas is a community property state, which means both you and your spouse own your marital property. That may include your home, your car, your furniture, and your bank accounts. Even if only your spouse worked, you both have a right to that property. It does not matter who technically earned the money or made the purchases. If it happened during the marriage, you both own it, and the court will split it between the two of you.

That is still true if your spouse was unfaithful. The court operates under these community property laws. It is not the judge’s place to “punish” your spouse for breaking your trust.

There can be exceptions, however. For instance, perhaps you both signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married. You were worried about adultery, so you put in the prenup that you got 75 percent of the assets if your spouse cheated on you. As long as that prenup is valid, your spouse may pay for being unfaithful. In most cases, though, it makes no difference.

Your rights in Texas

Texas has different divorce laws than many other states, so make sure that you know your rights

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