An award of spousal maintenance unofficially referred to by McKinney divorce lawyers as alimony can be affected by many factors. Is cheating one of them? For example, do you still have to pay support to an ex who committed adultery? Or if you started seeing someone after your separation, will that be counted against you?

McKinney divorce lawyers explain how extra-marital relationships could affect a court’s determination regarding alimony, property division, and more. 

How is Marital Misconduct Considered in a McKinney Maintenance Determination?

Section 8.052 of the Texas Family Code specifies that once a court has determined that a former spouse is eligible to receive alimony, the judge can consider several factors to help decide the amount and duration of maintenance payments. One of the listed factors is “marital misconduct, including adultery.” McKinney divorce lawyers know this factor can affect alimony if committed by either spouse. 

If the spouse seeking alimony has cheated, that fact alone can be enough to deny spousal maintenance altogether, even if the spouse is in financial need. On the other hand, if the spouse asked to pay alimony had an affair, it is possible that the court could use that to bolster the amount received by the wronged spouse. This would be particularly likely if the cheating spouse expended joint marital resources to further the affair, such as buying gifts for a mistress. These expenditures could be considered a fraudulent disposition of community property, which is another factor courts use in setting the alimony payments. 

McKinney Divorce Lawyers Explain How Adultery is Defined 

Although the Texas Family Code addresses alimony as a basis for divorce and in connection with alimony, the statutes do not explain what actions constitute adultery. Generally, courts have defined adultery as voluntarily having sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. 

Using that definition, a spouse who sends sexy messages or pictures to someone may be cheating. Still, they would not be considered an adulterer, and their conduct would not affect alimony. However, suppose one partner has sex with someone else while the couple is separated but not yet divorced. In that case, that act is considered adultery legally, even if both partners feel like they’re no longer together. McKinney divorce lawyers could assist with acquiring or preserving evidence to prove adulterous conduct. 

What Else is Affected by Adultery in Texas?

Courts can also consider extra-marital affairs when dividing community property between divorcing spouses. Under Section 7.001 of the Texas Family Code, the general rule of property division is that the divorcing couple’s estate should be divided in a “manner that the court deems just and right.” This does not require a 50/50 split, as many people assume. 

A judge might well find it “just” to award more of a couple’s marital property to a spouse that has been cheated on. However, adultery is not typically considered when a court is making decisions on child custody and visitation.

Talk to Experienced McKinney Divorce Lawyers if You Have Questions About Alimony

Like all aspects of divorce, questions about alimony can raise concerns and provoke anger between spouses. However, experienced McKinney divorce lawyers could explain your rights and help you achieve your goals, taking advantage of all available opportunities presented by your situation. For a free, confidential consultation to learn more, contact the dedicated legal team at Nordhaus & Nordhaus today.