That an adult is only able to be married to one person at a time may at first appear to be a straightforward concept. However, on a recent occasion a person walked into our office and told us of a scenario where, in fact, he was married to two different women simultaneously. In Texas, how does State law view a unique and convoluted situation such as this?
In the above example, the Texas Family Code holds that the first marriage is the only valid marriage. Any marriage entered into by a person after the first valid marriage is void by definition. The second marriage that is void can be made valid if the first marriage ends due to death or divorce- as long as the the parties to the second marriage represent themselves as married and live together. That second marriage becomes a common law marriage which begins on the date the earlier marriage is dissolved.
What practical effects does a void marriage have on the parties involved? For starters there is no tax benefits available for filing jointly as a married couple. Death benefits and the right to make life and death decisions are not available to either party either. Being named a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy has the potential of being declared invalid because the marriage was void.
Important to note at this point in our discussion is that if you find out your spouse has a prior, valid marriage you do not need to take legal action of any kind to exit the relationship. Your marriage was never in existence. You may, however, seek a void marriage declaration of your local family law court just in case. This declaration can protect your property and allow you to enter into a marriage in the future without difficulty.
What if a spouse truly and honestly becomes their marriage is a valid marriage despite the fact that it is void? In this instance, the State of Texas designates such a person as a putative spouse. A putative spouse has the ability to recover a portion of what would ordinarily be considered to be community property. Their right to do so ends as soon as the spouse realizes (or should have realized) that there is an earlier marriage that is still in place. Essentially- the spouse must file their claim in family court prior to this realization.
Preserving your rights to property accumulated during this void marriage is an important consideration in a scenario such as this.
Experienced family law attorneys, like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can assist you in developing a plan to exit a void marriage.
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”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, 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.