Divorce in and of itself is an emotional experience. The addition of a cheating spouse only compounds the emotional turmoil the faithful spouse experiences through the divorce process. Many potential clients often ask if they can sue the “homewrecker” for destroying their marriage. More often than not, many of these potential clients have scoured the internet and found cases in which the faithful spouse has successfully sued the individual that contributed to the demise of their marriage. For those potential clients in Texas, the answer to the question is no.
ALIENATION OF AFFECTION LAWSUIT NOT AUTHORIZED IN TEXAS
Alienation of affection lawsuits (aka homewrecker lawsuit) are claims brought by the spouse who was affected by the third party’s actions. The spouse can seek monetary damages from the third party as well as punitive damages to punish the third party for their bad actions. In this type of lawsuit the affected spouse would generally need to show:
- The marriage was happy with genuine affection and love;
- The love and affection was alienated and destroyed;
- The wrongful and malicious behavior of the other person (homewrecker) caused the alienation, and;
- The innocent spouse was damaged in some way.
There are only a few states that allow these types of lawsuits to occur which include: Utah, South Dakota, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Mississippi. In 1997, the Texas legislature created a provision abolishing alienation of affection. Texas Family Code Section 1.107 states: A right of action by one spouse against a third party alienation of affection is not authorized in this state.
Coincidentally, there are some people who claim that the innocent spouse can file suit against the third party (homewrecker) for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in lieu of alienation of affection, however, the standard is a difficult one to meet.
DISPROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COMMUNITY ESTATE IS POSSIBLE
Texas has provisions in place that allow an innocent spouse to bring forth certain claims due to the acts of the guilty spouse. Adultery, is a fault claim that is common in many divorce cases that involve extramarital affairs. Such a claim if proven can allow for a disproportionate share of the community estate. Meaning more than 50% of the community property can be awarded to the innocent spouse based on the conduct of the cheating spouse.
If you or anyone you know has questions pertaining to family law or wishes to have a free 30-minute consultation, please contact a family lawyer Arlington TX trusts, today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into divorce and family law.