What Is A Putative Marriage In Texas?
The discussion of bigamy in modern-day society has the most negative connotations. Although the Texas Family Code makes it illegal for an individual to have more than one spouse; Texas courts are still battling the continuing emergence of bigamy and what Texas calls a putative marriage.
Article published by the Houston Divorce Attorneys (832) 410-8935.
Marriages in Texas, Generally
According to the Texas Family Code, every marriage in Texas is presumed valid, “in order to provide stability for those entering into the marriage relationship in good faith and to provide for an orderly determination of parentage and security for the children of the relationship, it is the policy of this state to preserve and uphold each marriage against claims of invalidity unless a strong reason exists for holding the marriage void or voidable. Therefore, every marriage entered into in this state is presumed to be valid unless expressly made void by Chapter 6 or unless expressly made voidable by Chapter 6 and annulled as provided by that chapter.”
The Putative Marriage in Texas
Oftentimes, situations arise in which marriages become more complicated; for example, in situations where marriages are invalid but at least one party had a good faith belief that they were married. This situation occurs very frequently in Texas courts and is called a putative marriage.
Fortunately, Texas implements the Putative Spouse Doctrine to remedy such situations.
Good Faith Belief
It is monumental that at least one party has a good faith belief that the marriage exists—this is a mandatory prerequisite to be recognized as a putative spouse. Good faith means that at least one party was ignorant to circumstances that prevented a valid marriage. This good faith prerequisite cannot be met by either party claiming to not know the applicable law.
The Valid Marriage Presumption
The Texas Family Code states, “When two or more marriages of a person to different spouses are alleged, the most recent marriage is presumed to be valid as against each marriage that precedes the most recent marriage until one who asserts the validity of a prior marriage proves the validity of the prior marriage.”
The burden of proof is on the party attacking the validity of the marriage.
Why the Putative Spouse is Important
The existence of a putative spouse will usually emerge upon the probate of will or the division of the estate of a decedent who allegedly had more than one spouse. The division of property might greatly differ if a putative spouse proves to hold a valid marriage. Therefore, it is very important to determine the rightful heirs of an estate, one of whom may be a putative spouse.
If you would like to speak to a Family Law Attorney in Houston, then call (832) 410-8935.
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