No Marriage License For You!

marriage

Although same-sex marriage has been legalized in recent years, Texas law still prevents certain persons from marrying each other and those persons may not obtain a marriage license.

Certain Relatives May Not Be Issued a Marriage License

You may have joked about the folks in Arkansas being able to marry their first cousin, but in Texas it’s illegal along with marriage to several other relatives. This list is set out in the Texas Family Code in specificity.

A person cannot get a license to marry any of the following relatives:

  • Any ancestor or descendant, whether by blood or adoption. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(A), 2.009(a)(4), 6.201(1).

  • A brother or sister, whether by whole or half blood or by adoption. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(B), 2.009(a)(4), 6.201(2).

  • A parent’s brother or sister (i.e., an uncle or an aunt), whether by whole or half blood or by adoption. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(C), 2.009(a)(4), 6.201(3).

  • A brother’s or sister’s son or daughter (i.e., nephew or niece), whether by whole or half blood or by adoption. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(D), 2.009(a)(4), 6.201(4).

  • A current or former stepchild or stepparent. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(E), 2.009(a)(4), 6.206.

  • A son or daughter of a parent’s brother or sister (i.e., a first cousin), whether by whole or half blood or by adoption. See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(6)(F), 2.009(a)(4).

Currently Married Persons May Not Be Issued a Marriage License (with exceptions)

A person who is currently married cannot get a marriage license. Exception: Applicants who are currently married to each other can obtain a marriage license to renew their wedding vows.  See Texas Family Code §§2.004(b)(5), 2.009(a)(4),(b).    Awwwwwwwwwwww…

Recently Divorced Persons May Not be Issued a Marriage License (with exceptions)

Last but certainly not least (and definitely MOST COMMON): If you have been very recently divorced, you may not obtain a marriage license.

A county clerk cannot issue a marriage license to any applicant who has been divorced within the last 30 days, regardless of whether the divorce took place in Texas or elsewhere. See Texas Family Code §2.009(a)(5).

Exceptions to this rule: (1) Divorced spouses can remarry each at any time, and (2) a divorced person can ask the court to waive the 30-day waiting period for good cause. See Texas Family Code §§2.009(a)(5), 6.801(b), 6.802.

“Good cause” is not necessarily defined in the family code nor restricted to any particular scenarios. Instead, the finding of good cause is left to the judge’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.  For example, in this attorney’s experience, the courts have waived the 30-day waiting period for our clients due to an upcoming military deployment into an active combat zone or in cases of terminal illness when the parties wanted to marry prior to one spouse’s death.

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