WHAT CONSTITUTES A MARRIAGE IN TEXAS?

What is a ceremonial marriage?

A ceremonial marriage is different from a common-law marriage and is often referred to as a “formal” or “licensed” marriage.  For a valid ceremonial marriage, a couple must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk in any county in Texas and participate in a marriage ceremony conducted by a person authorized to do so.

Can same sex couples marry?

No.  A person cannot get a license to marry a person of the same sex.  Texas courts have decided that a person’s gender is determined at birth, thereby preventing a transsexual from marrying a person of the same genetic sex.  Even is a same-sex couple managed to obtain a marriage license, the marriage is void and has no legal effect.

Can minor children marry?

Maybe.  A person under the age of 18 years can get a marriage license only by either: (1) obtaining parental consent (in writing), (2) petitioning for a court order, or (3) showing that an earlier marriage to another person has been dissolved.

Parental consent must be given by a person with authority to do so.  For example, if a minor’s parents are divorced, then the divorce decree should state which parent (or both) has the authority to consent to marriage of the minor.

A minor who petitions a court for marriage must serve his or her parents with citation and the petition, and the court must conduct a hearing on whether the marriage is in the minor’s best interest.  In addition, the court must appoint an attorney to represent the minor in the hearing, at the minor’s expense.

However, a minor who has been previously married and then divorced retains the capacity of an adult, thereby negating the need for permission to enter into another marriage.  However, if the minor’s marriage ended in annulment, then the minor’s disabilities of minority are reinstated, and the minor requires parental consent or a new court order.

Can related people marry?

Maybe.  A person cannot marry the following relatives: an ancestor or descendant, whether by blood or adoption; a sibling, whether by whole or half blood or adoption; an aunt or uncle, whether by whole or half blood or adoption; a nephew or niece, whether by whole or half blood or adoption; a current or former stepchild or stepparent; or a first cousin, whether by whole or half blood or adoption.

How long after my divorce can I remarry?

A person who is currently married cannot marry another person while still married to someone else.  After a divorce, generally, there is a 30 day waiting period before you can marry someone else in Texas.  However, a divorced person can ask a court’s permission to waive the 30 day requirement.  Also, divorced spouses can remarry each other at any time.

How is the ceremony conducted?

Texas does not prescribe any specific form for the marriage ceremony and does not require any particular words to be spoken.  As long as the participants effectively demonstrate their voluntary consent to be married (for example, by applying for a license and participating in the ceremony), then they are married, even if one does not audibly respond to an official’s questions during the ceremony.

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