Can Cheating Affect the Outcome of a Divorce?

Infidelity can have an impact on your marriage settlement, but only under certain circumstances. Cheating is one of the most common reasons for divorce, and a judge can take it into account if you file for a fault-based divorce instead of a no-fault divorce.

That said, a judge will consider the wasteful dissipation of assets in any divorce case, so infidelity can affect the outcome of a no-fault settlement. Let’s discuss this in greater detail below.

Fault & No-Fault Divorce

Texas recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorces. In a no-fault divorce, there is no single stated reason that triggered the divorce. Usually, this is summed up as “insupportability.” If you file a no-fault divorce, neither you nor your spouse makes any claim you have to prove to the judge for the divorce to proceed.

A fault-based divorce points to one of five reasons (grounds) for the divorce: adultery, cruelty, felony conviction, and abandonment. If you’re a party to a fault-based divorce with allegations of infidelity, the accusing party will file on the grounds of adultery.

Divorce on the Grounds of Adultery in Texas

While the outcome of the settlement typically isn’t affected by infidelity in a no-fault divorce, it can affect the division of marital property in a fault-based divorce.

Because Texas is a community property state, the division of assets between spouses is as even as possible. If the spouse alleging adultery in a fault-based divorce successfully proves their spouse’s infidelity to the judge’s satisfaction, the judge can order a “just and right” division of community property.

This “just and right” can award a greater percentage of marital assets to the spouse who proved the adultery. This split doesn’t stray too far from even, usually no more than 60/40. Each spouse’s separate property and earning capacity can influence the size of the difference between their shares.

Wasteful Dissipation of Assets

There is a circumstance when a judge might award a greater portion of marital property to one spouse regardless of grounds (or lack thereof) for divorce: wasteful dissipation of assets.

The wasteful dissipation of assets refers to using community property for either spouse’s sole benefit. Common examples of wasteful dissipation can include gambling, purchasing drugs, and spending money on an affair (gifts, expensive vacations, dinners, etc.).

If either party funds their infidelity with community assets, the other party can allege wasteful dissipation. If proven, this can result in a greater portion of community property to compensate for the overall reduced value of the marital estate that a spouse’s affair caused.

Do You Need Help with Your Divorce?

If infidelity is a factor in your divorce, you need legal representation that can help you address the unique challenges you may face. Kay Polk, Attorney at Law has nearly 20 years of experience advocating for clients involved in a variety of family law matters, including divorce.

We can help you move toward a better future by offering personalized counsel and services. If you want to learn more, please request a consultation with us today.

To get started, contact Kay Polk, Attorney at Law online.