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When Is a Marriage Void in Texas?

Under various circumstances, Texas courts can consider marriages to be void based on Texas Family Code Subchapter C. Declaring a Marriage Void.

Consanguinity

Consanguinity is the kinship or family relationship that people share. Consanguinity that makes a marriage void includes marriage to:

  • A brother or sister, whole or half blood or by adoption
  • An ancestor or descendent, by blood or adoption
  • A parent’s brother or sister, whether whole or half blood or adoption
  • A son or daughter of a brother or sister, whether by whole or half blood or adoption
  • A stepchild or stepparent

Bigamy

This statute also considers marriages void that occur while a person has another wife or husband still living from whom no legal divorce or annulment was obtained (bigamy).

Same-sex marriages or civil unions

Same-sex marriage or civil union is not valid in Texas under the Texas Family Code. Under Texas law, the courts only recognize marriage as a relationship between members of the opposite sex.

In 2010, a Dallas gay couple who were legally married in Massachusetts and residing in Texas filed for a divorce. The Statesman, an Austin newspaper, reported that the Fifth Court of Appeals overruled the Dallas District Court judge’s previous decision. The appeals court found that the district judge did not have the authority to hear the divorce case because marriage between same-sex couples did not exist in Texas. If a marriage did not exist, the court could grant no divorce. The Texas ban on same-sex marriage was ruled constitutional by the appeals court, which overturned the previous district court’s ruling. The lower court had ruled that limiting marriages to a woman and a man was unconstitutional.

This case and others prove interesting as residents of one state move to another state, bringing different state laws into play. Another salient point emphasized in this case was that courts cannot grant a divorce for a marriage that is void in the first place. One might conclude that this would also hold true for other types of void marriages.

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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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