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Adultery in Texas: A Basic Overview

In Texas, adultery is not a crime. A spouse will not get a spot on their criminal record, pay a fine or go to jail if they don’t remain unfaithful. That’s not to say the state has nothing to say about the action, however, meaning the adulterous partner isn’t just going to be let off the hook. The legal code in Texas cities like Houston, Galveston and League City allows for punitive damages and even punishment for adultery. This is because while it isn’t a criminal offense, it still does violate certain civil laws in Texas. Here are some of the ways cheating can come back to bite you legally.

Child Custody

Adultery can affect a judge’s decision regarding child custody in some cases. An adulterous affair may not affect custody in Texas, but the judge might consider any embarrassment, pain or discomfort caused to the children if the affair was conducted in their presence. This can be especially significant when a decision has to be made regarding two otherwise perfectly good parents.

Property Distribution

Seeing as how adultery is grounds for divorce in Texas, it can affect certain aspects of the judgment according to the family law there. So a judge might consider adultery when it comes to property being distributed between the spouses, although this isn’t necessary. Normally, property is neatly divided in half, since Texas is a community property state. However, the judge may award more than half to the wounded spouse in cases of adultery, a scenario that is likelier to occur when there is evidence that the cheating was what ended an otherwise good union. It’s also likelier if the cheating spouse used marital money and assets to gift their lover.  


The state of Texas is not an alimony friendly one, so it’s not likely for the judge to factor in adultery in their decision about alimony. Alimony is only awarded in isolated circumstances, when it is clear that the spouse seeking it is incapable of supporting themselves financially. Still, family law code in Texas will limit alimony to not more than $2500 a month or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly income before taxes, and for no more than three years.

Tort Claims

The wronged spouse can make a tort claim in their divorce petition in Texas. So not only can that spouse ask for divorce, possible custody of the children and their share of marital properly, but also for the court to punish the cheating spouse for the pain they caused them. This punishment is usually in the form of some sort of financial restitution.

As you can see, the effects of adultery can be emotionally and financially wrecking. That’s why it’s imperative that affected parties use a quality adultery lawyer to go over their case and understand it deeply.