How Does Adultery Affect the Division of Marital Property in Texas?
August 3rd, 2017 by Tad Nelson in Divorce
Historically, adultery was one of the few legal grounds for divorce in Texas. But with the advent of “no-fault” divorce, it is no longer necessary to prove that one spouse cheated on the other. Indeed, in many cases it is in both parties’ interests to seek a no-fault divorce even if there is adultery. After all, proving adultery in court means airing out a couple’s dirty laundry in public, which can have a negative effect on the entire family, especially any children.
Court Awards Wife Most of Husband’s Retirement Account Following Affair
Of course, it may also be in a spouse’s financial interest to raise the issue of adultery. Texas allows judges to consider adultery as a factor in making a division of marital property. In particular, a court may look at whether the cheating spouse spent money–i.e., dissipated marital assets–to support their extramarital affair.
Here is a recent case in point from Dallas. The couple in this case was married in 1992. In 2008, the husband left the marital home and “moved in with his girlfriend.” Although the couple later briefly reconciled after the husband said he ended his affair, he later returned to his girlfriend, with whom he had a child. In court, the father admitted giving his girlfriend $1,000 each month for household expenses. He also spent significant amounts of money on vacations for the two of them, including “four or five” trips to Las Vegas.
The trial court ultimately ruled that each spouse should retain their separate property. The only “marital” asset at issue was the husband’s retirement account. The judge awarded 80 percent of that asset to the wife. The husband appealed this and other parts of the final divorce judgment.
The Court of Appeals reiterated that under Texas law, the trial judge was not required to make an equal distribution of marital property. The judge “may consider many factors in making the division,” including the father’s adultery and its role in breaking up the marriage. The appeals court pointed out that the father “left his family in 2009” to live with his girlfriend. During the ensuing six years, the husband “offered no financial support” for the mother.
At the same time, the husband spent thousands of dollars on his girlfriend–at one point giving her “$10,000 for a down payment on a house.” Given all this, the appeals court concluded the “trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding [the wife] a disproportionate share of the community estate.”
Do You Need Advice From a Galveston Adultery Lawyer?
Adultery destroys far too many marriages in Texas. If you have discovered your spouse has been cheating, you are understandably devastated and upset. The important thing to remember is you are not alone. An experienced Houston family law attorney can go over your legal options and explain how proof of adultery may affect your divorce case going forward. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to schedule a free consultation.