The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional changed the lives of many Texas same-sex couples. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling not only meant marriage equality, but also a simplified divorce process. Prior to the ruling, Texas did not recognize same-sex marriage or same-sex divorce. After, all the same marital laws and divorce laws now apply to all married couples regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The change to the laws regarding same-sex marriage in Texas opened the door to couples getting married and receiving the marriage benefits in the state.
What is the process of getting married in Texas?
For adults to get married in Texas, they must first visit the office of their county clerk to apply for a marriage license. They may then be married by either an authorized religious official or a judge after waiting a minimum of 72 hours but no longer than 31 days. Marriage licenses require people to complete an application establishing that the couple wishing to marry is legally able to enter into the marriage. Marriage equality now means that it is unlawful to refuse to marry two individuals who are eligible to get married due to race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Texas law also recognizes informal marriages such as common law marriage. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding same sex marriage in Texas:
Is there a waiting period before we can get married?
Yes, all couples are typically required to wait at least 72 hours after applying for their marriage license to get married.
What if we were married somewhere else?
If a couple marries in another state or another country, then the marriage is valid in the United States and the state of Texas.
Can same-sex couples enter an informal or “common law” marriage?
Yes, however, not all states recognize common law marriages. If you are thinking about moving to another state, you may want to consider seeking legal advice regarding LGBT rights from a family law attorney or law firm in the state you are considering moving to.
Does Texas recognize domestic partnerships?
Some parts of Texas do recognize domestic partnerships. A domestic partnership agreement will describe both the legal rights and the responsibilities of both partners. This document may be used by some employers to grant benefits and insurance. However, domestic partners do not benefit from the same property protection as spouses do. While a domestic partnership is an agreement, it does not mean that you are married, common-law married, or in a civil union.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Texas, do I still need a will?
Marriage equality does not mean you shouldn’t go through the steps of estate planning. Planning your estate helps protect you and your family. This is especially true if you have children. Even for couples who don’t marry, estate planning is vital. It’s important to remember that estate planning involves more than just a house and property.
Do Texas death certificates reflect surviving same-sex spouses?
Yes. The surviving same-sex spouse will reflect on a Texas death certificate. Also, the surviving spouse may request a revision to death certificates issued prior to the change for marriages legally recognized in a different state.
Same-Sex Marriages and Divorce
With the Texas court now recognizing gay marriages, same-sex couples can marry and divorce no differently than opposite-sex couples. According to state law, a same sex spouse may file for divorce in a county in which at least one of the spouses resides.
It is recommended that all parties find a good divorce lawyer regardless of if they are ending an opposite-sex marriage or a gay marriage. A qualified attorney will help protect your rights during and after the divorce. They’ll also be able to walk you through the different steps in your case to keep things moving forward.
Before entering any marriage, you may also want to speak with an attorney about a premarital agreement. If you’re already married, then they may also be able to help you with a post-marital agreement.
Local, Experienced, and Qualified Family Law Attorneys
If you’re looking for an experienced family law attorney for your marriage, divorce, or custody needs then the professionals at The Jimenez Law Firm are here for you. We have a deep understanding of the Texas constitution, Texas legislature, and your rights as private citizens. No one should face discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation when it comes to marriage. We’re in your corner and your right to marry and divorce matters to us.