How Many Divorces Can You Have in Texas?: Exploring the Laws of Multiple Divorces
Most people who divorce eventually remarry. In fact, around 6% of residents have been married at least three times in Texas. If you’ve been married and divorced and are considering getting divorced again, you may have concerns about the number of times you can legally file for divorce.
How Many Divorces Can You Have in Texas? According to Texas law, you can get married and divorced as many times as you need as long as you meet certain requirements. Regarding multiple divorces, the state’s legal landscape offers a range of considerations and limitations, and understanding these limits is crucial to ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.
At Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Fort Worth Family Law, our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience assisting clients through the complexities of divorce and family law cases. Our compassionate and dedicated team of divorce attorneys is prepared to work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome in your case and ensure you receive the support and guidance you need during this challenging time.
Are there Limits on How Many Marriages and Divorces You Can Have in Texas?
Marriage is a contract between two individuals who are sound of mind and not bound by any laws or regulations. In Texas, a person can get married as many times as they wish; however, they are only legally allowed to enter one marriage at a time. Before a new marriage begins, you must first acquire a divorce. When a person attempts to marry someone else while legally married to another person, the state will not recognize the second marriage.
Texas Marriage Requirements
While there are no restrictions on the number of times you can get married, there are other restrictions that apply if you are looking to remarry.
A person must be 18 to consent to marry in Texas. Anyone between 16 and 18 must have parental consent or a court order granting permission to marry. Unfortunately, Texas is one of the leading U.S. states for minors forced into marriage against their will. Because of this, Texas legislatures recently passed a bill prohibiting anyone under 16 from getting married. The bill also prohibits anyone under 18 from marrying without a judge’s permission.
Number of Marriages
Texas only allows a person to enter into one legally-recognized marriage at a time and will not recognize the second marriage in cases where the individual is still legally married to someone else, even when they are legally married to someone in a different state.
Number of People in the Marriage
As stated before, only two unmarried people can enter into a marriage. You cannot be married and enter into another marriage, also known as bigamy. Additionally, you cannot have multiple spouses in the same marriage, also known as polygamy.
Length of Time Between Marriages
While you are allowed to get married and divorced an endless number of times, there are restrictions on the length of time between the end of one marriage and the official start of another. If you recently got a divorce, Texas requires you to wait 30 days before officially remarrying another person. Failing to wait 30 days will make any new marriage voidable.
A judge can waive the 30-day period for good cause if you or your future spouse:
- Is seriously ill
- Will be deployed by the military within 30 days
- Have not lived with your former spouse in several years or;
- Are facing permanent duty reassignment outside the U.S
Even if you meet the legal requirements to obtain a marriage license, you must still wait 72 hours after getting the license to conduct a wedding ceremony. There is also a 60-day waiting period between filing for divorce and when a court can actually grant a divorce. Thus, the total waiting period between filing force divorce and remarriage is typically 93 days.
Divorce and Remarriage in Texas
Some time passes after a divorce, and you may have found happiness in a new relationship. As your new significant other increasingly becomes more significant in your life, you may consider taking a walk down the aisle again. Before considering marriage as an option, it is essential to understand how remarrying could affect the terms of your divorce decree. If you decide to remarry, important issues like spousal or child support could be impacted, and it may be a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable divorce attorney to avoid any unexpected problems.
Remarriage and Spousal Support
Alimony is an essential aspect of divorce, and in Texas, it is called spousal maintenance. Spousal support is intended to help offset the financial disadvantage one spouse may be experiencing upon divorce. This type of support is generally temporary and intended to aid the recipient in working toward financial independence. It is also not automatically awarded in every divorce and may only be awarded if your spouse requests it and the court determines the financial need is there. The court will depend on several factors, including each spouse’s age, health, education, and employment skills, in determining the amount and duration of spousal support.
Texas courts typically set periods for spousal support ranging from 1 year up to 10 years maximum. If the receiving spouse remarries, however, payments are automatically terminated. Additionally, if the receiving spouse starts cohabitating with another person, the paying spouse should gather evidence related to the cohabitation and file a motion to terminate spousal support. In cases where the paying spouse is behind on alimony payment, they will still be required to pay the amount of spousal support owed to their ex-spouse before the support order is terminated.
Remarriage and Child Support
While a substantial change in circumstances can lead to the modification or termination of a child support order, remarriage generally does not count. Having a new child after a remarriage, however, can count. In determining which parent will pay child support and how much support should be paid per month, a judge will consider the specific circumstances of each case and base their decision on factors such as both parent’s combined income, how many children are uncoiled, and the best interests of each child.
Additional factors the court looks at in calculating child support are:
- Spousal maintenance
- Retirement benefits, pensions, and trusts
- Social Security, disability, and unemployment benefits
- Interest, dividends, and capital gains
If you have another child with your new spouse, Texas courts may re-evaluate your situation and utilize the new child as a factor in modifying an existing child support order. Parents are given income credit for any other children they have to legally support and who aren’t the subject of the child support order being considered. However, while the state will consider a new child when deciding to modify an existing child support order, it will only do so if the change will not negatively impact any children from a previous marriage.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Provide Remarriage Protection
A prenuptial agreement, or prenup for short, is a contract between two people contemplating marriage. Most family law attorneys strongly recommend prenuptial agreements when considering remarriage, especially if you have children from a previous marriage or significant assets.
Additional reasons a couple may want to consider getting a prenup include:
- One or both spouses are in significant debt
- One or both spouses owning property and bringing it into the marriage
- One or both spouses remarrying or having children
- A desire of one or both spouses to secure their estates
Prenups are legally binding contracts that outline the division of property, spousal support, and other financial matters in the event of divorce or death. When people with kids remarry after a previous divorce, prenups ensure that the right benefactors receive your assets. These agreements must be finalized before marriage and become effective as soon as a couple is legally married.
The Legal and Financial Implications of Multiple Divorces in Texas
The division of assets and debts in a divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process. While you may be dealing with high emotions, family issues, and children, the bottom line is divorce is a costly business transaction. In fact, the average cost of a divorce is approximately $15,000 per person and can increase to $100,000 for more complicated divorces involving issues like custody disputes, for instance. If you are considering another divorce, separating finances is one of the trickiest parts of multiple divorces because the same amount of money now must be used to support two or more households instead of one.
Financial Implications of Multiple Divorces
In addition to the emotional toll, preparing for the far-reaching financial ramifications of another divorce is crucial. You should start by examining and listing all your assets, expenses, income, and liabilities. A solid understanding of these things is crucial to predicting how a divorce may be settled in terms of issues like property division. Any debts accrued during the marriage will also be divided equitably by a judge.
For example, if one spouse took out a student loan during the marriage, the other spouse could be liable for paying that off unless they reach a different agreement. In some cases, retirement accounts may need to be divided as well. Additionally, one spouse might owe the other alimony if they were unable to enter the workforce because they stayed home to raise a child and manage the household.
When you marry someone, your assets and debts typically comingle, and depending on the length of your marriage, your finances may have been intertwined with your spouse for most of your adult life. These financial strings must be untangled when a divorce occurs. This can become tricky in a community property state like Texas, where assets or debts acquired during the marriage are generally considered equally owned by both spouses.
Some examples of community property in Texas include:
- Financial assets acquired during the marriage
- Income earned by either spouse during the marriage
- Bank accounts, stocks, and bonds
- Current and future tax implications of each area of negotiation
- Child care costs
- Personal property, such as vehicles or furniture acquired during the marriage
- Real estate
- Debts like loans and credit card balances incurred during the marriage
In determining how to divide assets and debts amongst spouses, Texas adheres to the principle of “equitable distribution.” In determining what is fair and reasonable, the court considers various factors based on your case’s specific circumstances. Separate property, however, is an exception to this rule and refers to any assets and debts owned by one spouse prior to the marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift, devise, or transferred by descent.
Examples of separate properties may include:
- Income earned by a spouse before the marriage
- Property or assets inherited or received as a gift during the marriage
- Property or assets acquired after the date of separation
- Debt incurred before the marriage or after the date of separation
If you’re considering another divorce in Texas, there are a lot of issues related to property and finances that you will come across. Understanding your legal options can help ensure your rights are protected. An experienced Texas divorce attorney can advise you on the best course of action in your case and safeguard your financial interests.
Legal Implications of Multiple Divorces
Even if you don’t live in the state, you can still marry in Texas if you follow the state’s marriage license rules. However, the requirements for filing for divorce in Texas are less relaxed, and before you go any further, you want to make sure you’re eligible to file. To be eligible to file for divorce in the state, at least one spouse must have lived in Texas six months prior to filing and have been a resident of the county where the suit is filed for 90 days before filing. Once you’ve determined that you satisfy the residency requirement for your county and state, you should consider the “grounds for your divorce” or legal reasons why you are seeking a divorce.
Common Grounds for Divorce in Texas
Texas allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces. A no-fault divorce means the person requesting the divorce does not have to present evidence that the other party has done something wrong. These divorces often reach resolutions faster because spouses don’t have to spend time proving who was responsible for the divorce. In fault-based divorces, however, one or both spouses must prove that their ex-spouse’s actions caused the marriage to fail.
Actions that meet one of Texas’ fault-based grounds for divorce include:
- Abandonment (for at least a year)
- A felony conviction or incarceration for more than a year
- Confinement to a mental hospital for three years or more
- Living apart for three years or more
Decades ago, many divorcees felt trapped by being unable to prove “grounds for divorce” and having a spouse who wanted to remain in the marriage. In no-fault divorces, all you need to prove is that the marriage is insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities. Uncontested divorces are a type of no-fault divorce where couples are able to reach agreements on everything from child custody to asset division.
These types of divorces are generally faster and less expensive than contested ones because all the judge must do is review the marital settlement agreement and issue a final divorce decree. Contested divorces happen when spouses can’t agree to all the terms of the divorce and must have the court decide.
What to Expect After Filing for Divorce
Once you (the petitioner) files for divorce, your spouse (the respondent) must file an answer to your divorce petition. In the respondent’s answer or counter-petition, they can set forth their own divorce terms they believe are most favorable. Failing to file an answer may result in the respondent losing their right to make arguments for their preferred divorce terms.
Once the respondent files an answer, many couples decide to engage in mediation. Mediation can help couples figure out the terms of the divorce through a neutral third party who can help them reach an agreement that they both feel satisfied with. You may need to attend multiple hearings if the divorce has many contested issues.
Before your hearing, your attorney may conduct discovery, which can include valuations of your spouse’s assets and the collection of any evidence supporting your arguments. You must fill out a Final Divorce Decree once all divorce issues are resolved. After your final hearing, the judge will either sign the proposed decree or prepare and sign a different one if they don’t agree with what you’re proposing.
After your divorce decree is signed by a judge and entered as an order, you’ll receive a copy. In cases involving multiple divorces, the outcome of future divorces may be affected by the circumstances and outcomes of previous divorces.
Alternatives to Divorce: Exploring Other Options for Separating in Texas
The thought of divorce can be scary, and people considering filing may wonder if an alternative solution exists that better fits their situation. While some may consider legal separation, Texas has no such option. However, a couple may mimic a legal separation through a combination of legal orders, such as protective and temporary orders. Additionally, couples can achieve many of the same goals as someone seeking legal separation through a separation agreement or suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR). All these options provide solutions to issues surrounding property orders, visitation, and financial support before a divorce is finalized.
What is a Legal Separation?
In many jurisdictions, legal separation is understood as a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married. Couples who are legally separated must comply with many of the same edicts as a divorced couple, like child custody arrangements; however, unlike a divorced couple, separated partners can’t marry anyone else until their divorce is finalized.
Under Texas law, legal separation is not formally recognized, and couples are either considered married or divorced. Although the state does not recognize legal separation, with the right paperwork and the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can achieve most of the same results as a legal separation. If neither of you is ready to file or believes there is a possibility of reconciling, entering into what’s known as a “separation or partition and exchange agreement” may be the best alternative option.
What is a Separation Agreement?
While they decide if they should file for divorce, a couple in Texas can use an alternative mechanism known as a “separation agreement” or “partition and exchange agreement.” A separation agreement is an essential contract that outlines each party’s specific rights and duties while living apart. This contract is a cost-efficient and timely way of setting requirements for visitation, financial, and property rights.
In order to formalize the separation, the agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties. One of the biggest benefits of “partition and exchange agreements” is that they are a type of postnuptial agreement that allows couples to keep their finances independent by temporarily suspending the accumulation of marital property. In the agreement, you should be sure to specify who owns what from the date of the agreement going forward.
What is a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)?
To ensure your children are not left by the wayside, you should file a “Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship” during an informal separation. These suits are often utilized by couples seeking legal separation who need to formalize their parenting duties while separated. This document can be easily revoked if you and your spouse decide to reconcile. A SAPCR is not part of a divorce case but rather part of a custody case and is used as a way to gain access to or conservatorship of the child outside of a divorce or if you have never been married to the other parent.
What is a Protective Order?
A person who wishes to prevent contact with an abuser who has previously committed abusive acts or domestic violence against them may consider applying for a protective order. The court grants protective orders to a petitioner who has been physically harmed and who the court fears may still be in danger.
When these Orders are issued, the person named in the Order is prohibited from contacting the petitioner named in the Order. For an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), this can be as little as 90 days or as long as two years for a standard order. You may apply for this Order f you or your child were a victim of sexual abuse, violence, or stalking while your divorce is finalized. These orders are similar to legal separation because they can be used to establish child and spousal support and dictate where children will live and who has access to them.
What is a Temporary Order?
Immediately after a divorce is initiated, temporary orders are often needed and used to cover many things, including who gets what property or has primary possession of the children. This Order also addresses who has to pay what bills while the divorce is still ongoing. Small mistakes can have grave consequences, and because requesting a temporary order can be complicated, you should consult with an experienced Texas divorce lawyer who can draft the agreement on your behalf.
Remarrying before a Divorce Can Lead to Serious Consequences
Under the Texas Family Code, a person can only legally enter into a single marriage with one other person at a time. Bigamy, or being married to multiple people simultaneously, is prohibited under Texas law. The offense of bigamy is defined as any situation where an individual is legally married and marries a person other than their spouse or lives with a person other than their spouse under the appearance of being married. It may also refer to situations where an individual knows a person is married and purports marriage, marries that person, or lives with them under the appearance of being married.
Bigamy is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree with a maximum possible fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison under Texas state law.
Regardless of the circumstances, when someone is already married, and the previous marriage was not legally ended, any subsequent marriages will be considered null and void. If you find out your spouse has a prior, valid marriage, although you do not need to take any legal action, you should consider seeking a void marriage declaration from your local family law court. This declaration can help you enter into a future marriage without difficulty and protect your assets. A second marriage can be made valid if the previous marriage ends due to divorce or death. It is important to note that a second marriage can only be made valid if the parties in the second marriage can represent themselves as married and living together.
Contact a Fort Worth Divorce Attorney Today
Divorce is one of the most challenging things anyone faces in their lifetime, and if you are considering filing for divorce again, there are many things you need to consider. At
Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Fort Worth Family Law, you can rest assured that when you meet with one of our divorce attorneys, you are getting the individualized and professional service you need and deserve. Schedule a comprehensive case review with one of our lawyers today to learn more about your legal rights and available options.