Is It Cheating If We’re Separated?

While you and your estranged spouse might be physically separated, the state of Texas does not recognize legal separation. In the Lone Star State, you are either married or not. So even if the two of you are living separately, you are still married until you have a signed divorce order from a judge, and any dating or sexual relations with someone other than your spouse could be considered adultery. 

What if you have already filed for divorce? Texas state law doesn’t address dating or sexual relations once divorce papers are filed. But that doesn’t mean you can carry on relations with someone other than your spouse with no consequences until the divorce is final. Any non-marital relationship conducted prior to a signed divorce agreement, even when spouses are living separately, could be considered infidelity and impact alimony, division of assets, and custody. 

Divorce is a challenging time for both parties. Emotions often run high. Dating while in the process of divorce, even if the two of you are living apart, could lead to resentment from your spouse and children. Upsetting your spouse could result in them wanting to make you pay more and see you get less from the division of assets. Your children could end up feeling alienated and might not want to see you, negatively impacting custody discussions.

Alimony

Texas judges may consider one party’s infidelity when awarding alimony to the other party. One spouse’s indiscretion, whether the parties are living apart or not, can be used to influence the nature, amount, duration, and manner of alimony payments to the other spouse. In short, if you committed adultery, regardless of whether you were still in the same house or divorce papers were filed, a judge could legally award your spouse alimony because of your non-marital sexual relations.

Division of Assets

Texas is a community property state, meaning assets acquired or earned during the marriage are jointly owned by each spouse. That does not, however, mean a judge must give each spouse half of all assets or divide things 50-50. Judges use a standard of what is “just and right” when dividing assets, based on the facts and circumstances presented. 

Did you buy dinners, pay for hotel rooms, and fund trips with your new love prior to the divorce being final? Until the ink is dry, all assets are considered community property. So, any money spent to woo another could negatively impact the amount the judge decides you’re due. A judge can also decide it just isn’t right for a cheating spouse to get half of the assets and instead award the other spouse more.

Custody 

A child’s best interest and safety are always top priority in custody hearings. If you introduced a new partner who in any way put your child in danger, you could be jeopardizing your custody or visitation rights. Moreover, if you are so involved in your new relationship that your parenting and decision-making is affecting your child, this might also hurt your position in custody and visitation discussions.

Bottom Line

Save the dating for after your divorce is final, even if you are living separately from your spouse. Remember, you are married until the divorce orders are signed by a judge. While Texas law may not directly address dating during the divorce process, your spouse could claim adultery and make alimony, asset division, and even custody discussions and outcomes more difficult.

OUR DIVORCE ATTORNEYS CAN ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT DATING DURING DIVORCE 

Divorce is challenging, but with Alexandra Geczi LLC, you are not alone. Our attorneys are here to help you discreetly navigate the process and protect your interests so that you can move forward into a bright, bold future. Contact us today at 214-974-4449.

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