Texas is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. Many believe this means that their bad behavior will not affect the outcome of the divorce settlement, particularly concerning dividing assets, support or custody. However, there are specific examples of marital misconduct that can affect the outcome.
Rather than determining fault in the divorce, marital misconduct is a type of misbehavior that undermines the marriage. It can be cited when the offender’s spouse is forced to endure an undue burden. Rather than punish the offender, it is meant as compensation because the victim-spouse was forced to contribute more to the marriage partnership because of their spouse’s conduct. However, if both sides engaged in this type of behavior, there is less chance of an argument for misconduct.
There are several broad categories of marital misconduct:
- Addiction or habitual drunkenness
- Cruel or abusive behavior
- Domestic violence
- Economic fault, including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and waste
The courts will then look at the weight of behavior (domestic violence or abusive behavior will likely be more serious), how often it happened and for how long. However, economic fault can mean a lesser share of the property is awarded to the fraudulent or wasteful spouse.
Each case is different
Experience in the courtroom is especially crucial in cases where there is the potential for marital misconduct. This is why an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Midland County, Ector County, and surrounding areas of Texas can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of the settlement.