Relationships can be complicated, especially when they go beyond the challenges that typical relationships face.
One of the more controversial relationship concerns that Texas divorce lawyers deal with from time to time is bigamy, when a person is married to more than one spouse.
Bigamy is against the law in Texas as the family code recognizes that each spouse may only be married to one person at a time.
Because of this, bigamy in Texas is not just illegal; divorce attorneys stress that it can create a challenging situation with regard to marital rights as well.
Marriage According to the Texas Family Code
Although some states do recognize bigamy in certain situations, any divorce lawyer in the state will tell you that Texas is not one of them.
According to the Texas Family Code, a marriage is recognized only as one person being married to just one person at any given time.
Spouses may get divorced and remarry at any time or remarry upon the death of one spouse; however, there may legally be only two people in the relationship.
When Bigamy Becomes An Issue In Texas
Bigamy is when one spouse is married to two separate spouses, usually without the other spouse knowing about it.
It’s not very common, but divorce attorneys do come across it at times when second spouses learn of the first spouse or when a second spouse’s legal rights within the marriage are challenged.
Whether the second marriage was intentional, happened while a spouse assumed their current marriage was void when it wasn’t, or through common law, people in this situation must resolve it while living in Texas since the state will only recognize the first of the two marriages.
A divorce lawyer experienced with these circumstances can advise on the options for resolving the situation that could include a divorce from the first spouse or trying to convince the second spouse to legally end the other relationship for everyone’s benefit.
Bigamy Can Affect Relationships In Multiple Ways
Divorce attorneys warn that because it’s not recognized in Texas, bigamy can create a number of serious problems for those involved in a bigamous relationship:
- Spousal Rights - The second spouse of someone who is already married retains no rights within the marriage like spousal privileges, spousal authority over life and death decisions, and no right to any death benefits.
- Financial Concerns - Bigamy complicates the division of marital property should the second marriage end as second spouses are not entitled to any retirement benefits or pensions, gain no tax benefits from being married, and have no claim to any of the income earned by their spouse, which can put the property and finances of the second spouse at risk.
- Child Support - The spouse accused of bigamy is still responsible for the support of any children born of either spouse, even if one of the marriages is dissolved or found to be invalid, although custody complications could arise.
Get Help to Resolve A Bigamous Relationship
Since Texas does not recognize a second marriage while a spouse is already married as legal in any way, divorce lawyers warn that this can put the second spouse in a bigamous relationship at great risk without ever realizing it.
While other states may recognize the rights of both spouses of a person committing bigamy, only the first marriage is considered legal in Texas even for those just moving into the state.
Divorce attorneys strongly suggest that when spouses in Texas discover this situation, it is vital to get legal assistance right away to protect their rights as a divorce process can begin.