|ADULTERY IN THE TEXAS
According to Word Tracker, approximately 3.2 people a day type the key words, "adultery divorce texas," into the search engines. And that's just the people who are looking on the internet.
Anyway you figure it, there's a whole lot of cheating going on. And perhaps that's not surprising. Texas does love its' country and western music and half the C & W songs are about cheating hearts and being almost persuaded.
There are few things in life as painful as finding out that your spouse has been cheating you. It hurts like a knife in the heart. And the pain is quickly followed by intense anger. Before you rush out and file for a divorce, though, you should stop and assess your situation.
CHEATING VERSUS FALLING OFF THE WAGON
The first thing to consider is whether your spouse is an habitual cheat, or if this is a one-time occurrence that will never happen again. And there is a big difference, though it may not feel like it at the time.
In Marias' case, the attorney was able to convince her to go to a marriage counselor and talk it over before she made any drastic decisions. With the help of the marriage counselor, Maria concluded that confessing to her husband was not a wise decision. That she had made a mistake based on loneliness and depression and that it would never happen again.
Usually there are several elements present when a spouse has a one-time affair. First, there is a husband or wife who is absent in some sense. Sometimes they're in the military and they're stationed overseas. Sometimes they're long distance truck drivers. Sometimes they're just working two jobs to try to pay the bills and they're exhausted when they get home.
Second, there is the other spouse who is lonely, depressed, feeling neglected. They're often in a state of emotional starvation, desperately needing companionship, reinforcement, and feedback from another adult.
Third, there's the, "friend," who's, "concerned." He or she starts dropping by, calling, or emailing to be sure that the lonely spouse is okay. He or she gradually builds higher levels of trust and emotional intimacy, until they're spending quite a lot of time together.
Finally, there's something that suddenly lowers the inhibitions of the lonely spouse. Most commonly that something is alcohol, but it can also be the result of a sudden increase in loneliness or depression. Put all of those elements together and you've got a classic scenario for falling off of the marital wagon.
But there's another element we need to talk about here: guilt. With people who truly love their spouses and made a mistake, there is tremendous guilt and regret afterwards. They feel that they've betrayed the most important person in their lives and they hate it.
Now let's talk about a whole different critter: the habitual cheat.
When someone is a real cheater, they're rarely ashamed of what they're doing. Instead, it stimulates them. They find it exciting, like they're living on the edge and getting away with it. They may say that that they love you, but their behavior says different. The person who falls off of the wagon may be a victim of impulse or lowered inhibitions. The cheater is cold and calculating and his/her actions are premeditated. They plan how to commit adultery and they plan how to lie to you to convince you that they aren't cheating.
One of the worst thing about a real cheater, is that he/she won't hesitate a second to destroy your self-image, your feelings of self-worth, even your very sense of reality. If they've stopped making love to you because they're worn out from their affair, they make you think that it's your fault. That you're not being romantic enough, or you're not as attractive as you ought to be.
And, as Kathy said, when two people have lived together for a while they KNOW if an affair is going on. They may not know it in the sense of having evidence, but they know in their hearts and their minds that something's not right. When you feel it that strongly and the other person keeps telling you that you're imagining things, you begin to wonder if you're losing your mind. Are you being paranoid or delusional or is your gut feeling right on. The cheater doesn't care if you sit there and slowly go crazy, as long as he/she doesn't get caught.
SAVING THE MARRIAGE: TO TRY OR NOT
If you are convinced that your spouse just fell off of the wagon and that it will never happen again, there's still at least a chance of saving your marriage. Even then, it can be a chancy business. It's a little hard to stay centered when you keep picturing your wife or husband in the arms of someone else. So, again, you have to make that assessment. How much do you want your marriage to stay together? Are you still in love with each other? Can you actually find that forgiveness in your heart to get over the adultery, or will it always be in the back of your mind and on the tip of your tongue? Are you willing to get some marriage counseling to work through those issues if you're having trouble with them?
If you've got a cheater in your bed, a through and through repeat adulterer, then you're probably not going to be able to change that. These are people who are liars, manipulators, and hypocrites. If you still want to stay with a lying, manipulative hypocrite, you might want to get some therapy yourself and find out why.
FILING FOR DIVORCE: ADULTERY AS A GROUNDS
If you decide that you can't save your marriage, you can use adultery as a grounds for a Texas Divorce. The question is, should you?
Texas is a no-fault state. That means that you can obtain the divorce without alleging anything. All that you have to say is that you're incompatible with your spouse and you get the divorce and your spouse can't stop you.
If you say that your spouse has committed adultery, then you have to have a trial and you have to be able to prove what you've said. If you can't prove it, you don't get the divorce.
In other words, 99 per cent of the time, no fault is the way to go, whether your spouse has committed adultery or not. What about the other 1 per cent?
You would want to allege adultery if there was something to be gained from it. If you were looking to get a larger division of the community property, if you were involved in a custody fight, if you wanted to get a higher amount of alimony, in those cases you might consider it. If you can prove that you've been a good and faithful spouse who has tried to keep the marriage together, and that your spouse destroyed it because he/she couldn't keep his/her pants on, it might make sense.
Unfortunately, most people who want to allege adultery do so because they're hurt or they're angry. If that's your sole motivation, then it's DUMB. It just means that the person who cheated on you is going to cost you more money and more time. One attorney estimates that in some parts of North Texas it can take up to a year to get a contested case onto the court docket. Why stay married to someone for that long when you can get it over with in two months?
So, once again, assess things carefully before you file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Weigh the time, the money, and the pain, and make sure it's worth it. If not, just use the no-fault grounds.
About the author: Daniel Adair spent 16 years working in a family law office in Central Texas. He is the author of, "The Texas Divorce Course, A Peoples' Guide to the Texas Divorce System," and has written extensively on the Texas divorce process.