Adultery in Texas: divorce, proving, charges, crime

Adultery in Texas:What is considered adultery in Texas? Penalty for adultery in Texas, charges ; Divorce; Can you go to jail for adultery in Texas ? Does adultery affect alimony in Texas ? Can I sue for adultery in Texas ? How to prove adultery in Texas ?

Adultery in Texas:What is considered adultery in Texas? Penalty for adultery in Texas, charges ; Divorce; Can you go to jail for adultery in Texas ?
Adultery in texas

Adultery is such a worm that erodes the marriage covenants slowly. It destroys a marriage relationship and deteriorates society’s cultural and moral aspects.

If you are a victim of adultery or committed adultery, you should know the laws and other consequences of adultery in Texas. In this article, we will discuss Texas laws regarding adultery.

What is considered adultery in Texas? 

Although adultery is highly condemned and forbidden almost in every state, Texas law does not criminalise it. Having an extramarital affair is not illegal in Texas.

Although adultery is not illegal, Texas Family Code section 6.003. 

According to this section, adultery is a voluntary sexual union between a married man or woman with someone not being; their spouse.

If any spouse enters into extramarital affairs while separated, it still falls under the definition of adultery.

Under the Texas family code, even if the spouses get separated, the divorce is not finalised; they are legally married in the eyes of law. 

To establish adultery, it must satisfy all the ingredients of adultery. The essence of adultery is voluntary cohabitation. It is not adultery if a married person shares, forwards, or receives heated text messages, photographs, emails, or sexting with any person. Even kissing, hugging, oral sex, and another element of cheating do not count as adultery under texas law.

Thus, sexual intercourse is an essential requirement to establish adultery. 

Charges Of Adultery in Texas

A crime gets categorised as a felony and misdemeanour. A felony is a grave and serious crime; that inflicts a higher amount of punishment. 

Whereas a misdemeanour is minor wrongdoings, usually prescribe more than 1-year jail with a fine or only fine. A misdemeanour is defined as a crime such as petty offences. 

Many states forbid adultery and punish them either as felonies or misdemeanours. But in Texas, adultery neither falls under misdemeanour or felony. Adultery is not a crime in Texas, and it doesn’t fall under any of the categories of crime under Texas law.

Although a person cannot be held accountable for adultery, A cheated spouse can get charged for marital misconduct or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Penalty for adultery in Texas

Although adultery is not a crime under law, it is morally and religiously wrong. It gets highly condemned in societies and cultures.

As many states harshly condemn adultery, Texas does not criminalise adultery. 

Many states forbid and penalise adultery. In South Carolina, punishment for adultery is up to six-month jail, and in Michigan, adulterous people may get life imprisonment; this punishment varies from state to state according to their laws. 

But unfortunately, cheaters or adulterous people do not get any punishment for committing adultery. Although adultery can be used to prove the guilt of a spouse under a divorce case to get a larger share in the distribution of joint assets, there is no penal provision for adultery in the law books of Texas.

However, adultery comes under state civil law. Adultery can get used in a fault divorce proceeding.

The only way to penalise an adulterous partner is to establish marital misconduct. If you have suffered extreme emotional distress due to the conduct; you can bring the adulterer to court. 

Besides these, Texas law does not recognize adultery as a crime. 

Can Adultery impact Divorce cases in Texas?

Texas is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce petitions. However, a fault divorce case is maintainable in Texas family court. Adultery is a valid ground to establish the fault of a spouse in a divorce. But what is the benefit of proving the fault of another party? Adultery influences the decisions of the court considering financial issues in divorce cases. 

Adultery affects several aspects in a divorce case:

  1. Alimony: the amount of alimony gets determined considering the needs and ability to pay. But adultery turns the table. While deciding the amount, the court considers the fault and conduct of parties during the marriage. If any party is involved in adultery, the decision may come against that spouse.
  2. Division of assets and property: a joint property or assets of a spouse get divided equally and fairly, but a party may get awarded a larger share during distribution due to the infidelity of another party.
  3. Child custody: Adultery does not affect the child custody case; if it gets proved that the child gets exposed to any sexual behavior due to infidelity, the adulterous spouse may lose the case.

Adultery highly influences the court’s decision concerning alimony and distribution of property.

Can you get jailed for adultery in Texas? 

As you know, adultery is not a crime in Texas. A person cannot get arrested and sent to jail for committing adultery. Many states consider adultery; a felony or misdemeanour and prescribe different punishments according to their state laws. 

The person can be sent to jail for six months, one year, or life imprisonment. 

Texas snatched away the right to bring the adulterous spouse in court and punish them legally. It is a harsh truth that a spouse cannot punish the unfaithful partner. However, cheating comes under state civil law. Infidelity can impact the divorce case in Texas.

Although the spouse cannot punish the adulterer partner legally, one gets to benefit from the adulterous act in the division of joint assets and property during divorce. The expenditure on infidelity out of the combined assets can get compensated.

However, an Adulterous partner can get arrested and sent to jail for bringing a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress by the spouse.

Does adultery affect alimony in Texas? 

Alimony is spousal support awarded to a spouse considering the incapacity and helping them make a living. This spousal support gets awarded so that a spouse does not leave destitute and maintain the same standard of living after divorce. 

Texas law states that the amount of alimony must be fair and reasonable considering several factors and circumstances of the case. The court will also consider the actions and faults of the party while determining the amount of maintenance.

Adultery comes to play when determining the amount of alimony and its duration. If any spouse is involved in an extramarital affair during the marriage, it might negatively impact the case.

A faulty spouse may get asked to pay more, or the alimony may get withheld depending on the circumstances of each case. If the spouse receiving alimony is involved in adultery, the court may deny to award alimony regardless of the financial needs and condition of a spouse. Similarly, if the spouse paying the alimony is engaged in adultery court asks to pay a higher sum.

Whatever the result is, adultery highly influences the court’s decision while finalising the amount of alimony.

Can I sue for adultery in Texas?

If you are a victim and thinking, whether you can sue your unfaithful partner in Texas?

The answer is it depends on the circumstances. Although under texas law, adultery is not illegal, a suit against the unfaithful partner can get asserted for intentional infliction of emotional stress or tortious conduct. 

You cannot sue your spouse for adultery, but you can claim tortious conduct towards you. The conduct must be extreme and outrageous, that it is utterly intolerant or hard to endure.

A simple affair or harm to reputation is not sufficient to maintain a suit.

Can you institute a claim against your spouse lover?

The answer is again No. Under Texas law, a person cannot sue a third party for ‘alienation of affection.’ 

Texas law restrains a spouse instituting a lawful suit against their spouse’s lover; for destroying the marriage covenant or hurting their emotions. Although you can not sue, the only way to hold your spouse lover accountable is a tortious claim. A claim can get instituted for intentional infliction of emotional distress or tortious conduct of the third party. 

However, intentional infliction of emotional stress is a valid ground to sue your spouse and spouse’s lover, but for that, you must establish that;

  • The harm was intentional
  •  the conduct of the person caused you extreme emotional distress.

How to prove Adultery in Texas?

Although You know your spouse has committed adultery, it becomes challenging to prove it. Such acts get committed within four walls, finding the clue becomes daunting. 

Texas law recognizes these problems and favours the betrayed partner if the betrayed partner can prove that extramarital affairs have taken place. The court will presume that it involves sexual intercourse.

However, the evidence must be clear and convincing. It must be more tangible and sturdy than a preponderance of the evidence that ordinarily holds in civil cases.

A person can adduce two types of evidence to prove adultery in texas courts:

  1. Direct evidence: you can call for eyewitnesses such as friends, family members, or anyone who witnessed adultery. Even the admission by a guilty spouse or the paramour is direct evidence and is more robust than any other evidence.
  2. Circumstantial evidence: circumstantial evidence include bank statements or credit card bills, photos, and videos showing their intimacy in public places, phone records, restaurants bills, hotels bills, and other things which can prove infidelity of your spouse with the other person. 

The more proof you have, the more robust your case becomes. Thus to convince judges to pronounce the judgement in your favour, you need to adduce numerous pieces of evidence to support your allegation.

Although this evidence is essential, it is illegal to intervene in someone’s private sphere according to privacy laws. You must have legal access to your spouse’s emails, messages, and phone records. Thus before rushing to collect evidence, it is advised to go through all the privacy laws and get legal access.

Is adultery grounds for divorce in Texas ?

Yes, adultery can be grounds for divorce in Texas. In Texas, there are seven grounds for divorce, one of which is “adultery.” Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse with a person besides your spouse. To use adultery as grounds for divorce in Texas, the spouse filing for divorce must prove that their spouse committed adultery. This can be done through various forms of evidence, such as witness testimony, photographic evidence, or other forms of proof.

It’s worth noting that Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that a spouse can also file for divorce without alleging any specific fault or wrongdoing on the part of their spouse. However, if the filing spouse chooses to use adultery as a grounds for divorce, they may be able to receive a larger share of the marital property or higher spousal support payments. Additionally, a finding of adultery may affect child custody determinations.

Questions and answers

What is adultery in Texas?

Adultery in Texas is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than their spouse. Though it is considered morally reprehensible by many, the legal implications primarily revolve around divorce proceedings and not criminal penalties.

Is adultery a crime in Texas?

No, adultery is not a crime in Texas. Historically, many states, including Texas, did criminalize it, but most of those statutes have been repealed. Today, adultery’s relevance is mostly within the context of family law, specifically in divorce proceedings.

How does adultery affect spousal support in Texas?

If a spouse requesting alimony has committed adultery, it can be used as a basis to deny that support. Conversely, if the paying spouse has committed adultery, it may be used as a reason to award spousal support to the other party, especially if economic harm to the other spouse can be demonstrated.

Can adultery influence child custody decisions?

While adultery itself is not a direct factor in determining child custody, the behavior surrounding the affair might impact decisions. If a parent’s relationship with a third party endangers or negatively impacts the child’s well-being, it can be considered when awarding custody.

Does Texas require proof of adultery in divorce cases?

While Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state (meaning spouses can divorce without proving wrongdoing), proof of adultery can be presented in court to affect decisions related to spousal support, property division, and child custody.

How is adultery proven in Texas courts?

Direct evidence (photos, videos, messages) or circumstantial evidence, such as suspicious spending or frequent absences, can be used. Testimonies from private investigators or witnesses may also be presented.

Can a spouse sue their partner’s lover for alienation of affection in Texas?

No, Texas does not recognize “alienation of affection” claims, meaning a wronged spouse cannot sue their partner’s lover for damages.

How does adultery affect property division in Texas?

Texas is a community property state. If adultery is proven, the innocent spouse may be awarded a larger portion of the marital assets, especially if the unfaithful spouse used community funds for the affair.

Can a prenuptial agreement include clauses about adultery?

Yes, spouses can include infidelity clauses in their prenuptial agreements. If a spouse violates this clause, predetermined penalties may apply.

Are there defenses against accusations of adultery?

Certainly! A spouse might argue insufficient evidence, refute the validity of evidence, or demonstrate that they had reconciled with their spouse post-affair, making the adultery less impactful in divorce proceedings.

Does adultery affect annulment decisions in Texas?

Adultery is not a specific ground for annulment in Texas. Annulments are typically based on reasons like bigamy, impotence, or fraud.

How do courts view online affairs?

Online affairs, if they involve emotional investment or sexual interactions without physical contact, may still be considered adultery, especially if they negatively impact the marital relationship.

What role do private investigators play in proving adultery?

Private investigators can gather evidence of adultery, such as photographs, videos, or testimonies that might be crucial in divorce proceedings.

How long after discovering adultery does one have to file for divorce?

There’s no time limit specifically related to adultery, but once someone learns of it, they might want to act promptly, especially if it affects the marriage’s financial or custodial decisions.

Does Texas recognize “legal separation”?

Texas does not have “legal separation.” If spouses live apart, their property won’t be considered separate unless they divorce or have a legal written agreement.

Can both spouses be guilty of adultery?

Yes, both spouses can commit adultery, and each instance can be considered separately in divorce proceedings.

Is there a difference between adultery and “emotional affairs” in Texas courts?

Yes, while adultery typically involves sexual relations, emotional affairs, characterized by a deep emotional bond without physical intimacy, might not have the same legal implications unless they have tangible adverse effects on the marriage.

Does couple’s therapy or reconciliation negate the impact of adultery in court?

If spouses reconcile after an affair, it can affect the weight the court places on the adultery during divorce proceedings. Evidence of sincere reconciliation efforts can mitigate some implications of adultery.

How do Texas courts view adultery if both parties knew about and accepted it?

If both parties were aware of and accepted the affair, the court might view the adultery as less significant when determining spousal support or property division.

Are there religious implications of adultery in Texas courts?

Texas courts operate on secular law. While moral and ethical views on adultery might be influenced by religious beliefs, the court’s decisions are based on legal standards, not religious doctrines.

Read also

Versions: March and August 2022-2023

External resource: Dfwdivorce; Reasons not to divorce after infidelity

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