In a suit to declare a marriage void, you would be asking a judge to determine whether your marriage was void from the beginning because there were facts that prevented your marriage from being created in the first place. It would be as if your marriage never happened at all. You and your spouse would not otherwise be able to agree that it is a valid marriage. Something would have needed to have been in place that would have made Your marriage invalid from the get-go. At that point, your marriage would not be legal, and no divorce could be granted in your case because you all were never really married in the first place.
On a practical level, having avoided marriage can have important effects on you, your spouse, your children, and on the property that you own. Specifically, when it comes to the property that you all own there would be no Community property division of your assets and debts. Rather, if you and your partner decided to no longer be in a relationship and go your separate ways then there would be no clear-cut method to determine how property should be divided. In that case, you would have to determine a way to split the property between yourselves almost as if you two were roommates or romantic partners. The family courts would not be able to assist you in this regard.
The other area that would be impacted by your marriage being void is regarding your children. Child custody questions are not necessarily dependent on there being a marriage. Frequently there are questions regarding child custody associated with relationships that are outside of marriage. the fact that you have children from a non-marital relationship is nothing new to the family courts, but it may change the way that you negotiate with your partner and co-parent regarding custody and other issues related to your children.
What happens when there are children or property involved in a situation involving avoiding marriage?
If there are children born to you and your partner during the supposed marriage or adopted during the marriage, then a suit affecting the parent-child relationship has to be filed as part of your suit declares a marriage void. Just like in a child custody or divorce case, child custody issues must be dealt with such as a possession schedule, child support, conservative shipwrights, and health insurance coverage. These issues will be treated in much the same way as any other family law Case No matter what you all are trying to get sorted out regarding the potential void marriage.
When it comes to property-related issues the court will then have to consider whether you married the other party in good faith and didn’t know about the facts that would have made your marriage void. In that case, you would be known as a putative spouse. You would not be known as a putative spouse if you measured the other party knowing that there were facts a part of the case that would cause the marriage to be void.
A putative spouse will have similar property rights as a divorcing spouse. This is a big deal given that Community property laws in Texas protect spouses from one-sided outcomes when it comes to property division. Community property assumes that all property in existence between you and your spouse must be divided during a divorce. This is especially important if you are the party who has stayed home to raise children rather than the party who has worked.
For example, let’s consider a situation where you are the spouse who has been a stay-at-home parent for the entirety of your relationship. Undoubtedly you have contributed A great deal to your family, but it is likely that the income utilized to purchase many if not all of the household items, investments, and even the home you live in was done by the income from your partner. In that case, if you and your spouse were never actually married Then that would mean your partner would be able to keep the items that he or she purchased with their income.
However, if community property principles were applied to your case you would be in a much better position to be able to retain property that you did not pay for with your income. Since income earned during the marriage, and the property that is purchased with that income, is presumed to be community property then a judge would potentially divide that property up in a just and right fashion. That is if you and your spouse/partner do not negotiate a settlement first on this matter.
Additionally, you and your partner would be eligible for spousal maintenance which is a form of post-divorce spousal support. This is extremely important if either of you believes that you will be unable to meet your minimum, basic needs after the divorce. A separation like this can be difficult enough. Imagine adding onto that a concern about being able to meet your four walls and pay your bills. Spousal maintenance can be ordered if you or your spouse have a specific and proven need for financial support for a limited period after the divorce. Unless there has been domestic violence in recent years then you and your “spouse” would have been needed to be married for at least ten years to have spousal maintenance ordered.
With all of these potential issues at play, you should have an attorney representing you. There is just so much at stake in a suit to dissolve a marriage or to declare a marriage void. Child support and child custody issues are in play. Issues regarding the division of your property are also relevant. Your life after the end of this case can vary a great deal depending upon what is determined in the case itself. Financially, relationally, and familywise you will have a lot in play during a case. Don’t risk the outcome by not having an attorney.
What factors would a court use to figure out if you are a Pete if spouse?
We have just run through a list of the reasons why you need to be listed as a putative spouse rather than as a spouse who entered the marriage knowing that you and your partner could not be legally married. There are financial benefits to your doing so that are in some cases very important to your life. To determine if you held the belief of your marriage in good faith then a list of factors will be utilized by your family court judge when making that determination. As a general rule, family court judges utilize their I want experiences when making determinations like this in addition to the factors we have listed.
A family court judge would look to the documents associated with your marriage. This would include your marriage license, the paperwork associated with getting married, and setting up this ceremony or event in the other logistical paperwork that often goes into a marriage. The more planning and more thought that went into the marriage would seem to be better for your argument that you believed your marriage to be valid from the beginning. On the other hand, if you put very little thought into getting married and it seemed like it was more of a spur of the moment type situation then this would seem to lend credence to the idea that your marriage was invalid from the beginning.
next, it may be your best bet to have people associated with the marriage ceremony come to testify about your dealings with them leading up to the marriage. That person will be able to testify about how earnest you seemed about the marriage, whether you let on any concerns about the validity of it or whether their testimony would contradict what you have already testified about or what your spouse had testified to. Either way, this information will be critical when it comes to establishing your mindset from the beginning portion of your marriage.
Whether or not you and your spouse lived together during your marriage will go a long way towards helping a judge determine whether or not you believed you were in a real marriage. Living together under the same roof and sharing household responsibilities are trademarks of a valid marriage period if you and your spouse lived in separate households from one another and did not share in household responsibilities then this would tell a judge that potentially you all never engaged in a married lifestyle together. On the other hand, a situation where you and your spouse live together consistently from the beginning of your marriage until now would potentially go a long way towards helping the judge understand that you did earnestly believe that you and your spouse were married.
another potential piece to this puzzle will be your age. It would help your argument that you honestly believed that you were in a valid marriage for the entirety of your relationship if you were younger on the age spectrum. There’s a younger person you may have to add honest yet naive beliefs about marriage and whether you were involved in any valid one. On the other hand, if you are an older person and married a younger person then that may be a reason to believe that you should have reason to know that yours was not a valid marriage based on the specific circumstances of your case.
The requirements related to filing for divorce in Texas do not apply to suits to declare a marriage void. In a divorce lawsuit, you must have established residency in Texas before filing for divorce. Residency for a divorce in Texas means that you must have resided in Texas for at least the past six months and in that county where you were filing for the prior 90 days. Before the divorce. There is a situation where you could file for divorce in one county in Texas and your spouse could file for divorce in another if you are living apart from the other person.
on the other hand, to file a suit to declare a marriage void in Texas only one of you must live in Texas or you and your spouse must have been married in Texas. Your petition to declare a marriage void could be filed in the county where most or all the relevant facts or circumstances leading to the void marriage occurred. Or, if you were residents or lived in a certain county where most of the relevant facts and circumstances occurred then you could also file for divorce in that county. Void marriage cases are heard in the same county or district courts where the divorce will be held and heard.
Another difference between a divorce and a suit to declare a marriage void is that there is no waiting period in a suit to clear a marriage void as far as obtaining an order. in a divorce case, you must wait at least 60 days from the date on which your divorce case was filed until you can obtain an order from a judge granting the divorce. This is done to ensure that you and your spouse have had time to consider the divorce and whether or not it is something that you want to move forward with. On the other hand, there is no waiting period in a suit to declare a marriage void. Even if you have an open and shut case it is unlikely that you would be able to kit your petition approved immediately due to the schedule of the judge in your case. Depending upon the county where you live you may be able to get your petition granted more quickly.
What are the grounds in Texas to declare a marriage void?
There are four basic ways to have a marriage declared void in Texas. Those four ways are incest, bigamy, one party being under the age of 18 but not yet legally emancipated, or that you and your spouse are current or former stepparent and stepchild. Let’s walk through these grounds as we close out today’s blog post.
If you are interested in declaring their marriage is void due to incest then you, we have to show that you and your spouse are related to one another in one of the following ways are thereby blood or adoption: ancestor or descendant, half or whole brother or sister, or half or whole aunt or uncle, niece or nephew. They would need to be able to walk a judge through the family tree of your family to substantiate this allegation.
When it comes to declaring your marriage void on the grounds of bigamy then you would need to show that either you or your spouse was still married when you got married. The more recent marriage would be void. Keep in mind that if you are the spouse who is filing this suit to declare the marriage void then you would need to prove that your spouse was married before and that the earlier marriage did not end by death, divorce, or annulment. Your spouse is the first spouse who would need to be alive and did not die on the date That you and your spouse got married.
your marriage will also be void if either you or your spouse is under the age of 18. This is true unless there is a court order which emancipated you or your spouse from your parents and was in place at the time of your marriage. last, if you and your spouse were ever in a stepparent and stepchild relationship together then any subsequent marriage is void.
If you’re petition to have your marriage declared void is not granted by the judge, then you are likely in a position where you will likely need to get a divorce. Fortunately, you want that must go far too I’m taking the divorce. As I mentioned a moment ago, likely, the divorce court will also be the same court that heard your motion to declare your marriage void. You would likely have hired a family law attorney to represent you in the initial lawsuit. If you didn’t, I would highly recommend that you work with an experienced family law attorney during a divorce case. No matter whether your marriage is declared to be void or not, a family law attorney can help you navigate the waters of a legal case so that you do not run into any issues that can have negative impacts both in the short and long term.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.