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As in other states, family is central to the life of the average Texan. Because it's so significant, there are many state laws that govern most aspects of family life in Texas, from marriage licenses to how a court handles child custody. If you're considering marriage, adoption, or divorce in Texas, it's important to have a basic understanding of the Texas family law that pertains to these major life events.
All states have age requirements for marriage. In Texas, the minimum age is 18, but those between 16 and 18 years old can get married with the consent of their parents or by petitioning the court (Sec. 2.101 and 2.102). The state's laws regarding marriage also include the following rules:
In some cases, it's smart to consult with a lawyer before marriage, especially when the couple decides to have a prenuptial agreement in place beforehand.
Texas family law allows for no-fault divorce, which means you don't have to prove that someone is to blame for your marriage ending (Sec. 6.001). However, there are many other divorce rules, including the following:
Additionally, while the couple getting divorced can agree on how to divide their property, these matters are often too contentious for such an agreement and require the court to make those decisions.
In Texas, child custody is referred to as conservatorship, and these laws determine the legal and physical custody of children based on their best interests (Sec. 153.002). For this reason, the state allows children to express their wishes regarding custody and visitation (Sec. 153.009). Accordingly, a court may award joint or sole custody to the child's parents, and in some cases, grandparents are even afforded visitation rights (Sec. 153.003 and 153.433).
Divorce also affects the financial support that a former spouse must give to their ex and their children. With regard to child support, the state seeks to encourage parental responsibility by determining the paternity of the children, establishing court orders for financial and medical support, and enforcing those court orders.
In terms of alimony (or spousal support):
Texas law allows almost any adult to adopt a child or another adult under certain circumstances (Sec. 162.001 and Sec. 162.501, et seq.). With some exceptions, state law also requires the following:
Read the full text of the compiled Texas Statutes for more details.
Even the most common family law issue can be intensely stressful. A knowledgeable family lawyer can guide you through the process. An attorney will coach you on how to proceed and give expert guidance on hearings, trials and enforcing court orders. Take the first step now and talk to an experienced local family attorney.