In a word—no. But knowing the potential impact of an affair on the outcome of a divorce is important for understanding what to expect and developing an effective strategy. Here are three things you should know.
No surprises. If you had an affair, tell your lawyer. That’s the only way he or she will be able to develop an effective strategy to deal with it. The last thing you want to happen is for your lawyer to hear about it first at the courthouse. Even if it was your spouse who had the affair, tell your lawyer. It could be used to your strategic advantage.
An affair may affect the community property division. The court may grant a divorce based on adultery, but the real question is how does an affair impact the outcome of a divorce? Answer: it could impact the community property division. The court must divide a couple’s community property in a “just and right” manner. The court has wide discretion in doing so, and may consider several factors, including the parties’ education, ages, business opportunities, relative physical conditions, separate property, the nature of the community property being divided, and any fault in the breakup of the marriage—such as adultery. In other words, an affair is but one factor out of many the court may consider in dividing a couple’s community property.
Don’t forget the emotional impact. Whether your lawyer argues you should receive a larger share of the community property because of your spouse’s affair, don’t forget the even stronger weapon—its emotional impact. For some people, the prospect of adultery being discussed in open court or described in a court filing that is part of the public record can be highly stressful. If you are the “innocent” spouse, your mate’s affair may give you significant litigation leverage. If, however, you’re the offending spouse, being unmasked as an adulterer could cause issues at work or in other relationships.
Either way, an affair could have a significant impact on your divorce. It’s critical that you hire the right lawyer. Sonya B. Coffman, a Southeast Texas Board Certified divorce lawyer and CPA, is your best strategic choice. Our mission is to aggressively protect and secure all that is important to you.