Brian White | July 1, 2015 | Personal Injury
Grounds for divorce and adultery laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not even allow adultery to be used as grounds for divorce, while other states allow victims to sue the “home wrecker” in an adulterous divorce. Although Texas is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not have to file on any certain grounds, you still have the option to indicate fault.
In Texas, adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse outside the marriage. If you claim adultery in a divorce case, you will need to demonstrate proof. Although you will not have to prove the sexual act occurred, you will have to provide circumstantial evidence, like phone records, photos, videos, or other evidence.
Suing for Adultery in Houston, TX
There are two ways you can sue for adultery. The first course of action is to seek additional alimony and/or property during the divorce. Adultery weighs heavily in the decision of how to divide property, assets, and determine alimony payments. Keep in mind that alimony will only be awarded if you lost your ability to earn income in some way. If the courts decide to award alimony, any history of adultery will greatly affect the amount of the award.
Texas does not allow for payments to be more than $5,000 per month. Unlike most other states, Texas considers adultery as a determining factor when dividing property, as well. The adulterous party in the divorce may receive a significantly smaller amount of property and assets when they are divided. Adultery in Texas does not usually impact child custody decisions, except in rare instances.
The second course of action, though somewhat uncommon, is to seek damages from the third party involved in the adulterous relationship. While adultery is not a crime, and civil cases against the third party are rare, there are some instances where courts may award compensation for damages from a third party.
Added Damages: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Under the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress clause, you may allege the third party interfered in the marriage maliciously and intentionally, and it caused significant emotional distress. These cases may allow you to collect compensation; however, malicious and intentional conduct can be extremely hard to prove. You would have to establish malicious intent with extensive documentation, photos, videos, and any other evidence you can obtain. Essentially, you must prove the paramour had intercourse with the straying spouse and intended to alienate and destroy your marriage.
There are several defenses to this type of litigation. The defendant may plead he or she did not know the straying spouse was married. The defendant may also claim the marriage was void of love before the affair. Lastly, the defendant may claim that the case is outside the scope of the statute of limitations. Strangely, the statute of limitations begins when the affair itself begins, not when you find out about it. If you find out about an affair after six years, and the statute was three, the claim would expire by that time.
Speak With an Experienced Attorney to Determine Your Options
An adulterous relationship claim can be extremely complex and difficult to prove. It is best to speak with an experienced attorney who thoroughly understands personal injury laws. Your pain, suffering, and heartbreak could warrant litigation against your spouse or a malicious third party.
Speak with attorney Brian White if you would like to explore your options for adultery damages. Our firm practices several specialties of personal injury law out of our Houston, TX office. We are committed to providing excellent representation and obtaining the compensation you deserve.