MARRIAGE AND THE LAW

Defined: Article 1, Section 32, of the Texas Constitution defines marriage as consisting only of the union of one man and one woman and tells us that neither the state, nor a political subdivision of the state, may create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage. When interpreted, this definition necessarily excludes bigamy, gay marriage and "civil unions."

Interesting Fact: The state of Texas does not recognize the post-operative gender of a person who has undergone a "sex change" procedure. Rather, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that such a person's pre-operation gender is dispositive. Therefore, a man who has had a sex change to become a woman cannot marry a man. See Littleton v. Prange, 9 S.W.3d 223, 225 (Tex.App.- San Antonio 1999, pet. denied) to read the decision.

Types of Marriage

There are two types of marriage in Texas: ceremonial marriage and common law marriage.
Ceremonial Marriages
Ceremonial marriage is what most people consider to be the traditional method of marriage. To effectuate a ceremonial marriage, you must first obtain a marriage license and then have a marriage ceremony conducted by an officiant. Generally, a marriage certificate must be obtained no less than 72 hours prior to the marriage ceremony and will expire thirty days later if no ceremony occurs. If you are recently divorced you are required to wait thirty days from the date the Judge signs your divorce decree to re-marry unless the waiting period is waived by the court.

Common Law Marriage

Common Law marriage occurs when a man and a woman intend to be married, hold themselves out to others as married and cohabitate (live together). Common Law marriages must be established in court and are important in the event of separation or death. Your marital status will impact your homestead and survivorship and inheritance rights, among others. If you think you were common-law married, and you and your spouse have separated by choice or death, you should contact our offices immediately to protect your rights.

For more information about family law in Fort Bend County, Harris County, Galveston County and Brazoria County including Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond, Rosenberg, Fresno, Clear Lake, League City, Webster, Friendswood, Pearland, and the Houston metropolitan area, or if you require a family law attorney, please contact us.