Divorce After An Affair: I Cheated And It Cost Me

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Divorce after an affair can be especially challenging to your case
Infidelity may result in higher spousal maintenance and child support payments in a divorce. Photo by RDR Kiker.

I was caught cheating on my wife. One thing quickly became clear: we could not stay together any longer and we made the decision to separate. I wondered how this decision would affect my divorce after an affair, so, I did some research. Apparently, the couple’s reason behind a couple’s divorce in Texas can impact the outcome of the proceedings. This is especially true if the main reason for the separation is adultery or infidelity. c

It’s still considered adultery if it happened when the both of you were already living apart. Since Texas does not recognize legal separation, you will be considered married. The Texas Family Code defines adultery as when a married person voluntarily has sexual intercourse with someone who is not his or her spouse. This means the exchange of explicit photos or messages does not constitute adultery.

Texas recognizes no-fault divorces so you don’t have to prove your partner’s wrongdoing to get a divorce after an affair. However, infidelity may impact how the court views the offending spouse and how much he or she will have to give up in the separation. This can impact the areas of:

  1. Property division
  2. Child custody
  3. Spousal maintenance

After I found this out, I contacted a lawyer. I wanted to know more about these three specific important areas.

How Cheating Impacts Property Division

When my wife filed for the divorce, I wondered who would get our assets in a divorce due to infidelity. I owned a couple of houses and cars, so I asked my attorney for some clarification. He told me that when it comes to property division if you have committed adultery, it can be very costly. As a community property state, Texas looks at properties in two categories: separate and community. Separate property is the stuff that each person owned before the marriage. Community property is assets and liabilities that the couple accumulated while together in marriage.

In a Texas divorce, the court will divide community property according to what the judge thinks is fair or what he or she considers is just under the circumstances. Judges look at various factors if they intend to award a disproportionate share of the estate to one spouse versus the other. Frequent considerations include:

  1. The needs of the spouses. 
  2. The children’s best interest.
  3. The size of the estate.
  4. Whether or not physical or emotional abuse or adultery caused the split.

Therefore, if your wife or partner can prove that your infidelity is the cause of your contested divorce you may receive a smaller portion of the community property. This can mean all the assets you’ve worked hard for during the marriage could be quickly taken away from you. The court would give these assets to your ex-partner. This is to compensate them for the benefits they would have received if the marriage continued.

Furthermore, if you used marital assets to support your extra-marital relationships, you may have to pay back these funds or receive a smaller share of the property. This includes spending on gifts, vacations, food, and transportation for the other person.

Contested Divorce and Child Custody

I love my kids with all my heart. So I was nervous when I heard that in a contested divorce with an unfaithful spouse, custody can be complicated. 

Typically, courts will not consider adultery when determining child custody and visitation. I learned that when it comes to possession orders, the court will always rule based on what is in the best interest of the child.

So, if your spouse is trying to use adultery as a reason to get custody in divorce after an affair, she will need to demonstrate how this helps the kids. 

For example, she could show that you have a habit of regularly introducing new partners into your children’s lives. Many Texas judges believe that this behavior has a detrimental effect on a baby’s emotional growth and development. Judges will focus on your parenting abilities when making a decision. Another way your spouse can portray your adultery negatively is to show that you prioritized a new relationship over spending time with your child. She can also show that you committed infidelity in front of the children which caused them pain, embarrassment, or discomfort. You may also have introduced new partners to them which put them at risk.

I was worried that the relationship with my kids would be affected. I would have less time with them and could not live with them anymore.

Another fear I had was about what my ex-spouse would tell the children about the affair and the reason our marriage ended. That could affect the development and well-being of the children as well as their relationship with me.

Infidelity Could Result In Spousal Maintenance

My attorney also told me about a risk I didn’t even know existed in Texas: spousal maintenance.  

Although Texas family law doesn’t consider fault when making a decision on spousal support payments, a court will consider alimony based on domestic violence. So, if you are physically or emotionally abusing your wife and messing around on her, you’re likely going to pay more.

You might also be denied spousal maintenance if you were found to have committed adultery during the marriage.

After a partner has been found cheating, the first step for both people is to make a decision about whether they should stay together and work on the relationship and marriage. They also have to consider the impact a divorce may have on their finances, children, and housing. 

The impact of a divorce and an unfaithful spouse can be especially difficult for children. Children may experience pain and disappointment. They might often believe they are a part of the problem. This can affect the family they build after getting married in the future. You may need to help them work through the emotions they are going through as much as possible in the months and years after the divorce. This is in addition to getting help for your own emotions around the affair.

Signs That Infidelity Will Lead To Divorce

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons why married couples get a divorce. However, it does not always mean the end of a marriage. While you could opt to stay together with your spouse after an affair, there are signs that indicate that a marriage is headed for a divorce after you have discovered their cheating.

Partner Shows No Signs Of Remorse

Your partner may not show any signs of remorse for infidelity. They may start blaming you for the affair. Your spouse may also find a way to make you feel guilty for not meeting their needs. Other times, they may portray themselves as the victim in the marriage and refuse to take responsibility. In either situation, your spouse may refuse to communicate with you to improve the relationship. They may not want to recognize their part in the infidelity.

Even if your spouse doesn’t think that cheating is a big issue, they should still care enough about your feelings of being betrayed to make an apology if they love you. Not making an apology can indicate they do not care about your feelings.

One thing that both situations indicate that your spouse is not willing to make the effort to work on the relationship. This can be an important sign that the marriage is over. You may decide that it’s better to get a divorce after an affair.

Partner Is Still In Touch With Other People

Your partner may still be in contact with the people they had an affair with. This can happen even after they have insisted that they have broken things off. Even if they may not be seeing these people anymore, maintaining a relationship can mean that infidelity is inevitable in the future.

In any case, this behavior from your spouse can indicate that they do not respect your feelings. This can lead to a divorce. It might be time to move on and free yourself of people who do not respect what you feel.

Partner Does Not Want To Go For Counseling

Marriage counseling is often one of the options that people go for together. This often enables them to work through their feelings and save their marriage. They may recommit to their relationship for the sake of their children. It will take time but many couples often make the effort and time to work on repairing the marriage and fixing the situation. These couples may often emerge stronger and better later on with a good relationship. Unfortunately, if your partner refuses to try counseling to make things better, it will be a lot harder to work on your marriage. There may not be much hope for continuing your life together with your cheating spouse.

For some couples, infidelity may uncover issues that both people never tried to resolve and simply swept under the rug. This is why many couples will need to try their best to go for counseling and take steps to resolve these issues.

At this point, you might decide that you want to focus on healing yourself after your trust has been betrayed. If you have decided that there’s no point trying to fix the situation, walk away and move on with your life without your husband or wife.

Your Partner Continues To Lie

Infidelity can erode trust between people in a marriage. If one person always lies and keeps secrets even after his or her affair has been exposed, you’ll never be able to trust the other person again.

Even a small lie that is not related to infidelity can erode your trust. Instead of holding on to the hope that things may change, you might want to file a divorce and decide to end the marriage as the best option.

Deciding On Divorce After An Affair

Finding out the news about infidelity in the marriage can make it a confusing time for anyone. You may need to take some time to think about how you feel about the affair and what you want to do next. You might even feel your relationship with your spouse has worsened to the point where you start to think about your life without them. Being betrayed can make you feel like you’re not good enough. It’s important to manage these emotions with a professional or you may harbor them for years.

In some cases, you might find you can’t bring yourself to trust or love your husband or wife anymore after they have had an affair. You may overreact to things that your partner does if it triggers a memory of them being unfaithful that causes you pain. In other cases you might not see your partner as a good example for your children. It’s important for couples to have a frank discussion on the issues in their marriage. They need to decide whether they should stay together before they come to the decision to get a divorce after an affair and move on. The law is not the way to express the feelings you may experience after you find out about an affair.

If you make the decision to file for divorce and you need help defending yourself in a contested divorce after an affair, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch help you prepare your case. We have decades of experience in family law and can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation for your situation.

Who Gets the Cat? Texas Pet Custody Disputes

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Animal lovers see their pets as their children. For many, dogs and cats are part of the family — our fuzzy friends may share our bed, be a part of family photos, and even enjoy birthday celebrations. When a pet-loving couple breaks up, they view these four-legged family members the same way most people feel about their children. Accordingly, questions about pet custody disputes and related issues can become hotly contested in a divorce proceeding. Unfortunately, Texas law doesn’t see animals as lovingly as fur- moms and -dads. There is no pet visitation in Texas law, so you need to establish ownership or face potential heartache.

Pets can be caught in the middle during separation and divorce. Texas law treats our pets as property though we often regard them as our children.
Pets are often viewed as important members of the family.

In Texas Pet Custody Disputes, Animals Are Considered Property

All the stuff that a couple acquires while they’re married is called community property as defined by Texas law. In the case of a Texas divorce, that goes for pets as well. It doesn’t matter how much you love him. A family court judge will treat Fluffy the same as a table and chair set or any other personal property. Under Texas community property law, property will generally be distributed in a 50/50 split unless the couple has a prenuptial agreement. It’s clearly not possible to divide an animal in half, so the courts have to determine which one of the couple to award legal custody to.

You could, however, work towards shared custody of your pet animal as part of your custody agreement with your ex. The courts will approve it as part of the divorce order. It’s only possible because Texas law classifies pets as personal property. This is not like child custody cases where the courts have the final say on the arrangement they deem to be in the best interest of the child.

You can avoid the pet custody dispute if you bought or adopted the animal before you tied the knot. If you can prove this to a judge, then the pet will be considered the separate property of the original owner. An attorney can advise you on how to build your case.

Factors That Judges Look At For Custody

Ultimately, the judge will determine if the pet is a community or separate property during property division in a divorce. If the court finds that the pet is community property, the court will look into how best to assign the pet to a guardian and determine who gets ownership in the final divorce order. Some factors that a judge will consider are: 

  • Which party has been the pet’s primary caretaker?
  • Has either party abused the pet?
  • Who has a more pet-friendly schedule?
  • Which party can take better care of the pets in the future?
  • How will the children be affected by this decision?

Courts do not have to consider the best interest of your pets when considering pet custody. Bear in mind, judges are reasonable people – and often pet owners themselves. If there are two pets, the judge will often assign one to each spouse. If the kids have a close relationship with the dog, in many cases the parent who has primary child custody will most likely keep Fido. They recognize that Fido isn’t just physical property like a house.

Help Me Prove The Pet Is Mine

Some couples establish a prenuptial agreement before they are wed. This is a great place to designate your pet as your property. In the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement will make it easy for the judge to award you legal ownership so your beloved fuzzy can stay with you.

If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, don’t worry. There are still some ways to help you get legal custody of your loyal companion. You would need to provide some sort of evidence that shows you will keep your friend for a long time to come. Here are some proven factors the courts will use to determine which spouse should get ownership of the pets.

Five steps that show who the responsible owner should be in court.

Care Giver Evidence

A statement from your vet testifying that you are the one that tends to the  medical needs of the animal

Collect Pet Expense Receipts

Any receipts that you may have from groomers, pet supply stores, or trainers that show that you have been paying for the furbaby’s care

Prove you are the responsible pet owner

Statements from dog park visitors, friends, or neighbors willing to attest to your devotion

Gather Licence Expenses

A city pet license with your signature or copy of the receipt under your name

Document Who Adopted the Pet

The official adoption application that you filled out and signed

Your lawyer would be able to advise you on the information you may have to gather for your dispute case to show that you should be the one to get custody. They can also tell you about how Texas state law would consider the issue of legal custody disputes and any related issues.

There Is No Pet Visitation In Texas

Sadly, there is no legal visitation for pets in Texas. Consequently, if you are not awarded pet custody in the divorce, then you may be stuck with the heartache. As one of our clients lamented, “I didn’t find out about the passing of my beloved cat Eros until I saw a post about him on social media.”. Remember, it is best to document ownership. Also, save those receipts and have a list of witnesses ready. You may need them in case the unthinkable happens.

In some states, there have been cases where the courts created a visitation schedule between former spouses who had disputes over custody of their dogs. Other former spouses have spent large sums of legal funds to fight a court battle to settle the custody dispute. Some state courts have even ordered maintenance payments for dogs or cats, or ordered their removal from unsafe environments. In 2017, Alaska was the first state to pass a law that required the court to ensure that the pet’s best interests would be considered in a custody dispute.

However, while courts in some states are starting to look at more comprehensive custody arrangements that treat an animal more like children, Texas has not formally taken steps to recognize a dog or cat differently from personal property in divorce and property division law. This could change in the future.

Contact Us For A No-Cost Consultation

If divorce is on your horizon and your pets will be an issue, contact a Texas family law attorney as soon as possible. Custody laws for animals are still changing. A qualified lawyer who is well-versed in pet custody laws can help to provide you with advice on your pet custody case. At Sean Lynch, we have decades of experience in these matters. Contact us today! Let us know what you think with a comment below.