Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Texas?
Even an amicable divorce can become a complex matter when it comes time to work out questions related to child custody and visitation, or conservatorship and possession as they are known in Texas. When the issue of adultery is present, the divorce process is more emotionally fraught, but is it more complicated from a legal standpoint? Whether marital misconduct plays a role when it comes to child custody is not cut-and-dried but depends on several factors. Read on to learn how Texas laws and Texas courts approach this sensitive topic, and contact the Law Office of Maria Lowry if you are dealing with a contested divorce in Houston and need the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable Texas family law attorney.
Texas Family Law on Adultery and Child Custody
First, it’s essential to understand how Texas defines adultery. According to the Texas Family Code, adultery occurs when one spouse voluntarily has sexual intercourse with someone who is not their spouse. But how does this definition apply to child custody?
In Texas, the primary concern in child custody arrangements is the “best interest of the child.” The court considers several factors in deciding whether a proposed arrangement would be in the child’s best interest. Although there is no definitive list of factors set out in Texas statute, courts in the state have outlined a set of factors. While Texas judges can and will consider any relevant evidence presented by the parties, factors typically looked at to determine the best interest of the child include:
- The desires of the child
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child
- The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody
- The stability of the home or proposed placement
- The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent
Adultery or marital misconduct is not explicitly listed as a factor to consider, but it is easy to see how it might be relevant to one or more of the above factors. The fact that there was adultery might not automatically cause a ruling against that parent regarding custody of the children, but it would come into play if shown that the adultery directly affected the child’s well-being. For example, if one parent’s adulterous relationship exposes the child to harmful situations or negatively impacts the child emotionally, it could potentially influence the custody arrangement.
When Is Adultery Likely to Impact Child Custody?
For evidence of adulty to affect child custody, there must be a demonstrable link between the adulterous behavior and its impact on the child. However, there have been instances where the adultery of one spouse did influence child custody but typically due to associated factors. For instance, if the adulterous parent leaves the child unsupervised to engage in extramarital affairs or if the third party involved in the affair poses a danger to the child, the court may view this as an inability to prioritize the child’s well-being.
Other Impacts of Adultery on Divorce
It’s worth mentioning here that adultery could also be a factor in a divorce when it comes to the division of property, although adultery may or may not affect whether the division is disproportionate, depending on the facts of the specific case. This topic deserves further discussion and will be the subject of a later blog post.
Skilled and Knowledgeable Legal Help With Your Houston Divorce or Child Custody Dispute
Understanding the intricacies of how adultery can affect child custody in Texas is complex. While the court’s ultimate goal is to safeguard the child’s best interests, navigating the legal landscape can be complex. If you find yourself facing difficult issues in a Houston divorce or child custody dispute, the Law Office of Maria Lowry can help you understand the issues at hand and how they might affect your legal matter. Call 713-850-8859 to share your needs and concerns and develop a strategy for success.