Recently, the Huffington Post published an article regarding the University of Michigan’s study entitled "Was That Cheating? Perceptions Vary by Sex, Attachment Anxiety, and Behavior,” which documents a survey given to 456 students at two public universities in the Midwest regarding their thoughts on cheating in a long-term relationship. The study proposed twenty-seven actions ranging from going to dinner, holding hands, sitting on a person’s lap, sharing secrets, and kissing. The participants were asked to rank each action on a scale of 0 – 100 as to whether they consider the action to be cheating in a long-term relationship. It is very interesting to see what people do and don’t consider to be cheating.

When it comes to infidelity in a divorce in Texas, if a person can prove their spouse committed adultery, the spouse who was cheated on can receive a disproportionate division of the community assets. Additionally, when it comes to spousal maintenance, the amount and duration of spousal support may be affected if the person requesting spousal maintenance committed adultery during the marriage. The finder of fact as to adultery will be a Judge who you must remember is human and sees adultery every day in our Court system.

Recently, I was in a hearing in which I represented a Husband whose Wife had numerous sexual encounters with five different people during the course of their marriage. At the hearing, his Wife alleged that he had committed adultery by texting and emailing with a co-worker. My client did not have any type of sexual contact with this co-worker. The Judge addressed the actions of both spouses and stated that the Husband’s actions with his co-worker were just as bad, if not worse, than his Wife’s actions because what he did involved feelings and emotions. While you may not agree with this way of thinking, it is important to remember that a Judge is a human being and during a hearing, you will be subjecting yourself to that Judge’s way of thinking. What you may not consider to be cheating, a Judge may find those actions to be adultery and you could end up paying the cost financially.
 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.