Texas Family Law

People who are considering marriage, adoption, or divorce in Texas should have a basic understanding of the laws pertaining to their life event. A variety of state laws and statutes govern every aspect of family law in Texas. From marriage and divorce to child custody and adoption, Texas has laws that let residents know what is legal and permissible.

Marriage

Texas is one of the states in the United States that has laws pertaining to minors getting married. If a minor who is at least 14 years old has a parent's permission to get married, the marriage can move forward. The parent's consent must be given during a 30 day window just before the application for the license. If a minor can't get parental consent, the minor can petition the court for permission to get married.

Individuals who are at least 18 years old don't need permission to get married in Texas. They still need to get a marriage license from the county clerk. Couples who attend a state-approved marriage education class can get a considerable discount on a marriage license. On top of age, people who want to get married must be mentally competent and willing to get married. They also must not have certain blood relations, such as a brother-sister relationship.

Divorce

Texas allows a no-fault divorce, so the reasons for divorce can vary widely. The state does have a 60-day waiting period for a divorce. Additionally, neither party can remarry for 31 days after the divorce decree is finalized. When a no-fault divorce is chosen, the couple must have been separated for three years or have a marriage that is irreparable due to discord. Even in divorces based on insanity, felony imprisonment, adultery, domestic violence, or abandonment, certain waiting periods or time limits apply per state law. People seeking a divorce in Texas must be a resident of the state for at least six months and of the county for the 90 days preceding the filing.

Adoption

Texas law allows anyone to be adopted; however, anyone over 12 years old must consent to be adopted. Any adult can adopt a child. If the adult is married, the spouse must also participate in the adoption process. Stepparents are allowed to adopt stepchildren in certain circumstances. The adult who is adopting someone has to have lived in Texas for at least six months prior to the adoption being finalized; however, the court can waive that requirement in some cases.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody in Texas is referred to as conservatorship. The court can award joint conservatorship to parents under Section 153.003 of the Texas Family Code. The state does allow for children to let their wishes be known to the court when it comes to conservatorship and visitation. Grandparents are afforded visitation rights in some circumstances based on Section 153.433. Texas takes the best interest of each child into account when making choices regarding conservatorship.

Because the laws in Texas are subject to change, such as when same-sex relationships are involved, seeking the assistance of a qualified family law attorney is advisable. A family law attorney can help to answer questions, file forms, and strategize for cases in a way that might not be possible by a common layperson.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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