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CIVIL UNIONS

The Texas Family Code does not recognize civil unions pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 6.204, which defines a civil union as "any relationship status other than marriage that : (1) is intended as an alternative to marriage or applies primarily to cohabitating persons; and (2) grants to the parties of the relationship legal protections, benefits, or responsibilities granted to the spouses of a marriage." Sec. 6.204 further states, "A marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state."

If a heterosexual couple intends to have a civil union, the union could possibly classify as an informal marriage pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 2.401. In order to prove an informal marriage, Sec. 2.401 states as follows:

"(a) In a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding, the marriage of a man and woman may be proved by evidence that:

(1) a declaration of marriage has been signed as provided by this subchapter; or
(2) the man and woman agreed to be married and after the agreement they lived together in this state as husband and wife and there represented to others that they were married."

Should a couple wish to prove an informal marriage for divorce purposes, the party seeking divorce must prove such informal marriage before the second anniversary of the date on which the parties separated and ceased living together. See Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 2.401(b). Should the party seeking divorce not begin divorce proceedings in the specified two year time-frame, it is a rebuttable presumption that the parties did not enter into an agreement to be married. See Tex. Fam. Code. Sec. 2.401(b).

In addition, Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 2.401(d) states, "A person may not be a party to an informal marriage or execute a declaration of an informal marriage if the person is presently married to a person who is not the other party to the informal marriage or declaration of an informal marriage, as applicable."

If you believe you have a civil union or informal marriage based on the above-listed information, contact our office today for an initial consultation.

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