Back to Learning Center


Specialty tag(s): Pre-Divorce Guidance, Divorce

How Adultery in Texas Affects a Divorce

Curtis W. Harrison | May 29, 2024

Young sad woman sitting on sofa having relationship difficulties with her spouse

Divorce is widely considered to be one of the most stressful life events that a person can undergo. But as stressful as ending a marriage by divorce can, in itself, be, when the reasons for the divorce are rooted in adultery, the pain runs even deeper.

Working through such emotions in a healthy way requires time and the help of others. Yet frequently, each spouse must make weighty legal decisions with potentially long-lasting implications for themselves and their children while still wrestling with severe feelings of either guilt or grief, anger, and even bitterness.

In the midst of this emotional roller coaster, they each begin to wonder – perhaps for very different reasons – “Will an accusation of adultery affect my divorce?” The answer could surprise them both, as bringing up adultery in a Texas divorce can have unanticipated consequences.

As a starting point, Texas is considered to be a “no-fault” state. This means neither spouse is required to formally blame the other to justify the divorce. In practice, the vast majority of divorcing couples simply cite “insupportability,” which is the Texas version of “irreconcilable differences,” as their legal ground for divorce. The courts do not require more detail than this to grant a divorce.

Adultery Is a Fault-Based Ground for Divorce

Nevertheless, fault-based grounds, such as adultery, do exist in Texas. This is potentially significant because even though Texas is a community property state, courts are not required to divide everything 50/50. In reality, courts are charged with the responsibility to divide community assets and liabilities in a “just and right” manner, after considering the facts and circumstances of both spouses, as well as any children of the marriage. This gives the factfinder some latitude to award a disproportionate share of the marital estate to one spouse if he or she proves the other spouse is at fault.

How Does Adultery Affect a Divorce in Texas? Theory v. Reality

In theory, as a fault-based ground, divorce due to adultery in Texas can be used as a justification to gain a larger share of the community estate or perhaps to justify a request for post-divorce spousal maintenance (alimony). The rationale is rooted in precepts of equity: The innocent should not be punished, and the wrongdoer should not be rewarded. In practice, however, pursuing a claim of adultery in a divorce in Texas can lead to unintended results.

Alleging adultery as a negotiation strategy is a dubious proposition, especially early in the case: Accusing a spouse of adultery in a formal legal document almost always polarizes legal positions and escalates both the emotional toxicity and financial costs of the divorce process itself. Once formally added to the legal pleading filed with the court, any reluctance the accused might already have to admit wrongdoing is reinforced by the adversarial nature of the divorce process itself.

This resistance, in turn, leads to a natural and predictable reaction. The innocent spouse is typically still deeply in the throes of strong feelings of betrayal. Those feelings can devolve into unhealthy levels of anger or rage as the focus of the divorce litigation narrows to try to prove that the allegation is true. Left unaddressed, these powerful negative emotions may override otherwise sound judgment and reason. As the divorce litigation unfolds, both spouses could therefore find themselves locked into an escalating cycle of legal conflict fed by various forms of denial juxtaposed with a mushrooming passion for justice, if not retribution.

The End Result of Alleging Adultery in a Texas Divorce

Adultery allegations during a divorce often lead to a worse emotional and financial outcome for all involved. Previously healthy co-parenting relationships can end up in tatters as a direct result of the contentious litigation. Children frequently get caught in the crossfire, which can impact them later in their own adult relationships.

Ironically, the final property division usually does not differ substantially from the result that could have been achieved at a lower cost without dropping the “A” bomb in the first place. The reason is that the vast majority of divorce suits in Texas ultimately resolve prior to the conclusion of a trial by reaching an agreement, and most property divisions range from 50/50 to 60/40, even when a fault-based ground is taken into consideration. Put another way, “going nuclear” by alleging adultery or another fault-based ground can affect the outcome of the divorce, but those effects are almost universally harmful to everyone involved.

For the innocent spouse, taking the high road through the divorce process may be the best course of action. You might even consider proceeding through the process using a non-adversarial method, such as the Collaborative Divorce method. For the transgressing spouse, never underestimate the power of an earnest, heartfelt apology. It cannot change the past, but it could help to set the stage for a less destructive future for all concerned.

If you are looking for an experienced Texas family law attorney who will help you work toward a civil resolution, contact Goranson Bain Ausley. We will be there to help every step of the way.

Popular Family Law Articles

Depositions in Divorce CasesTexas PrenupCan Two Moms Be on a Birth Certificate
Texas Common LawIs Spying on Someone IllegalUncontested Divorce Forms Texas
Maximum Child Support in TexasWhat is Primary Physical CustodyTexas Audio Recording Laws
Texas Maximum Child SupportHow Are Assets Divided in a Divorce in TexasTaxes and Divorce
Standard Possession Order Texas HolidaysMediator vs Lawyer in DivorceDivorce Texas Cost

Services to Help Solve Your Challenges

Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of family law and will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you have the information you need to make wise decisions and prepare for the future.

Get in Touch

At Goranson Bain Ausley, we strive to deliver clarity about what comes next and confidence that you and your family’s future are more secure. Contact our team and discover how we can help you.

“I firmly believe that, equipped with the right team of collaborative professionals to guide you, you and your spouse will be able to negotiate an agreement that is more creative, more beneficial, and more satisfying than anything a perfect stranger in a black robe could devise.”

Request A Consultation


woman looking out window

Ally Caskey

Basic Steps in the Divorce Process

The divorce process can be a confusing and overwhelming affair. Understand how divorce works and what you can expect with this helpful step-by-step guide.


little girl watching her parents argue at home

Mona Hosseiny-Tovar

Alleging Domestic Violence in a Divorce: How Family Violence Accusations Affect a Child Custody or Divorce Case

Instances of family violence in Texas can lead to a divorce. Learn how courts look at allegations of domestic violence in child custody or divorce cases.

Related Resources