Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Texas marriage. The answers are general in nature and are designed to help you better understand marriage and divorce law and process.
The law in the individual circumstances of your case may vary and may affect the results in your case.
Frequently asked questions regarding, divorce, child custody, child support, property division, and alimony will be covered in subsequent blog posts.
What is the legal definition of marriage?
The legal definition of marriage in the United States, Texas, and other states is consistently evolving. In November 2005, Texas voters approved a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. This is found in Section 32 of the Texas Constitution:
“Sec. 32. MARRIAGE. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) forced Texas and other states to change how the law looks at marriage. The Obergefell decision extended the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples, giving equal rights to the benefits of marriage mentioned below.
This is not the first time in U.S. history that the legal definition of marriage has changed. Another landmark case was Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) where the decision of the United States Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
It is important to note that the legal definition of marriage is not the same as the religious definition of marriage. Many religious institutions have definitions of marriage that do not match the legal definition.
Some examples include:
- The Catholic Church does not allow interfaith marriages or divorce
- Islam allows a man to have multiple wives
What are the legal effects of marriage?
There are a number of legal benefits of marriage on both the state and federal levels; some examples include:
- Marital tax credit
- Filing taxes jointly
- Social Security benefits
- Prenuptial agreement benefits
- IRA benefits
- Legal decision-making benefits
- Inheritance benefits
- Health insurance benefits
- Paternity child benefits
- Leave benefits
Does Texas have an age requirement for marriage?
Section 2.101 of the Texas Family Code has a general age requirement. It states: “a county clerk may not issue a marriage license if either applicant is under 18 years of age, unless each underage applicant shows that the applicant has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes.”
Section 6.205 of the Texas Family Code states that a marriage to a minor “is void if either party to the marriage is younger than 18 years of age, unless a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the party for general purposes has been obtained in this state or in another state.”
Can I marry someone who is related to me?
It depends. Under section 6.202 of the Texas Family Code you may not marry:
- an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption;
- a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
- a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; or
- a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption.
Under 6.206 of the Texas Family Code states that a “marriage is void if a party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party.”
Can I be married to more than one person at a time?
Under Section 25.01 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual commits an offense if: (1) he is legally married and he: (A) purports to marry or does marry a person other than his spouse in this state, or any other state or foreign country, under circumstances that would, but for the actor's prior marriage, constitute a marriage;”
What is a "licensed marriage?”
A "ceremonial marriage" or a "licensed marriage" requires a license.
Section 2.001of the Texas Family Code requires a person “…desiring to enter into a ceremonial marriage must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk of any county of this state.”
Under Section 2.202 of the Texas Family Code, the following persons are authorized to perform a marriage:
- a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;
- a Jewish rabbi;
- a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony;
- a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, judge of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court, associate judge of a statutory probate court, retired associate judge of a statutory probate court, associate judge of a county court at law, retired associate judge of a county court at law, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state; and
- a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.
Is there a waiting period after I have a marriage license before I can get married?
Yes, under Texas Family Code Section 2.204(a) there is a “...72-hour waiting period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license.” Unless an applicant:
- is a member of the armed forces of the United States and on active duty;
- is not a member of the armed forces of the United States but performs work for the United States Department of Defense as a department employee or under a contract with the department;
- obtains a written waiver under Subsection (c); or
- completes a premarital education course described by Section 2.013, and who provides to the county clerk a premarital education course completion certificate indicating completion of the premarital education course not more than one year before the date the marriage license application is filed with the clerk.
(c) An applicant may request a judge of a court with jurisdiction in family law cases, a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a county judge, or a judge of a court of appeals for a written waiver permitting the marriage ceremony to take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license. If the judge finds that there is good cause for the marriage to take place during the period, the judge shall sign the waiver. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a judge under this section has the authority to sign a waiver under this section.
How long do I have to be married before I can get a divorce?
There is no mandatory amount of time that you and your spouse must be married prior to filing for divorce in Texas.
Can I marry more than five times?
Yes. There is not a limit on the number of times you can be married. However, you can only be married to one person at any given time.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
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- 15 Myths About Divorce in Texas
- 9 Questions to Ask Yourself and the Divorce Lawyer Before You Hire Them
- Common Questions about Texas Prenuptial and Marital Agreements
- Should I sign a Texas Premarital or Prenuptial Agreement?
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- Making Postnuptial Agreements Stick in a Texas Divorce
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- Dower Contracts and a Texas Divorce
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.