Divorce After An Affair: I Cheated And It Cost Me

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 Sabelhaus and 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.