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Criminal precedent still attached to adultery

Following the wake of General David H. Patreaus's public admission of adultery and resignation from the position of C.I.A. director, a discussion of extramarital affairs and their impact both on marriages and greater society has been reignited across the country. While adultery has long been viewed as an egregious wrongdoing, usually warranting the end of a marriage through divorce, in some states it also continues to carry serious legal consequences.

Adulterous activity in Texas does not currently carry a formal legal consequence, although it does qualify as adequate grounds for divorce. Still, in 22 other states the act is still considered an event deserving of prosecution. In Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, adultery is currently a felony, though rarely prosecuted all the way to a conviction.

Although recent changes in legal precedent have come to expand the freedom of what couples, married or otherwise, do privately behind closed doors, adultery is a uniquely harmful and more public act in that numerous others may be negatively affected by its consequences. The spouse and children on the other side of one partner's infidelity can be seriously harmed both psychologically and financially.

One University of California Berkeley Law School professor noted that while "nobody is going to be going to jail for it, [adultery] is used in divorce and custody cases and even in some employment cases."

It's clear that the event of an extramarital affair is a transgression of serious personal, emotional, legal, and financial harm. While Dallas residents may not be able to pursue criminal charges against an adulterous partner, they do have a strong litigation advantage throughout a divorce process. Working with a family law attorney can help turn this advantage into a very successful case.

Source: New York Times, "Adultery, an Ancient Crime that Remains on Many Books," Ethan Bronner, Nov. 14, 2012

  • Our firm can help divorcees move from a finished marriage to a newly begun single life. For more information, contact our Dallas family law page.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Attorney Bruce Turner is located in Dallas and represents people and businesses throughout DFW and the Metroplex, including Denton, Carrollton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Farmers Branch, Irving, Las Colinas, Corinth, Highland Village, The Colony, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Garland and Grapevine as well as Collin County, Denton County and Dallas County in Texas.

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