Typically, people who no longer want to be married will seek a divorce. In some cases, however, parties will ask the courts to deem their marriage invalid from the onset. Invalidating, or voiding, a marriage can have significant implications for the spouse involved and any children born of the marriage, and it is important for people involved in such proceedings to understand their rights and obligations. If you or your spouse intend to institute a suit to declare your marriage void, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney regarding your options. The skillful Dallas family-law attorneys of McClure Law Group have ample experience handling complicated marital issues, including void-marriage lawsuits, and, if you engage our services, we will work tirelessly to help you strive for the best legal result possible under the facts of your case.Procedure for Seeking a Void Marriage
The residency requirements imposed on parties who wish to seek a divorce in Texas do not apply to those filing suits to declare a marriage void. Instead, parties can file suits to declare their marriage void if either of them lives in Texas or they married in Texas. The case can be filed in the county where either party lived when the marriage or any relevant facts or acts occurred or in the county where such facts or actions happened. Unlike in a divorce proceeding, there is no mandatory waiting period between the time the suit is filed and when the court can declare the marriage void. In most instances, though, there is a slight delay due to the court’s schedule. Parties that do not qualify for a void marriage can most likely seek a divorce or annulment.
While divorce actions and suits to declare marriages void ultimately have similar outcomes, fundamental differences exist between them. Specifically, a divorce ends a valid marriage; a void marriage will be deemed invalid from the beginning. From a legal standpoint, it is like it never occurred.Grounds for Declaring a Marriage Void
Under Texas law, there are four grounds for declaring a marriage void: bigamy, incest, one spouse is under the age of 18 and is not legally emancipated, and a current or former stepparent and stepchild relationship between the spouses. If the parties had children during the marriage, they must include a suit affecting the parent-child relationship as part of their suit to declare the marriage void.
Regarding property rights, the court will consider whether the party petitioning for the marriage to be void entered the marriage in good faith. In other words, whether they did not know the facts that would make the marriage void and therefore should be considered a putative spouse; if they did know such facts, tough, and entered the marriage regardless, their relationship will be deemed meretricious. The distinction is important, as putative spouses generally enjoy similar property rights as divorcing spouses, while parties in a meretricious relationship do not. Further, meretricious spouses cannot obtain spousal maintenance.Meet with a Trusted Dallas Lawyer
Although parties rarely seek to invalidate their marital union, it may be necessary to declare a marriage void in some instances. If you are interested in pursuing a suit to void your marriage or received legal papers from your spouse instituting such proceedings, it is smart to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking your desired outcome. We assist people in divorce proceedings and related matters in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, Richardson, and Garland. We also represent people in family-law cases in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can contact us by calling 214.692.8200 or our online form to schedule a confidential consultation.