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how many times can you get married in Texas

How Many Times Can You Get Married in Texas?

How Many Times Can You Get Married in Texas?

Larry King, who lived in Texas for years, has been married eight times to seven different women. Tommy Lee Jones, who was born in San Saba, has been married three times. Willie Nelson, who is from Abbott, has been married four times. So, how many times can you get married in Texas?

When it comes to marriage laws, every state has its own unique set of rules and regulations. Texas, known for its independent spirit, has some interesting marriage laws. A common question that arises is: How many times can you get married in Texas? Let’s dive into this topic and explore the legal landscape of marriage in the Lone Star State.

The Short Answer

To cut right to the chase: There is no legal limit on how many times you can get married in Texas. As long as you are legally eligible to marry, you can tie the knot as often as you wish. However, this straightforward answer comes with several important caveats and considerations that we’ll explore in detail.

Legal Requirements for Marriage in Texas

Before we delve into multiple marriages, let’s review the basic requirements for getting married in Texas:

  1. Age: Both parties must be at least 18 years old. Minors aged 16-17 can marry with parental consent or a court order.
  2. Identification: A valid government-issued photo ID is required.
  3. Marriage License: Couples must obtain a marriage license from a county clerk’s office. There’s a 72-hour waiting period after obtaining the license before the marriage can take place (with some exceptions).
  4. Officiant: The marriage must be performed by an authorized officiant, such as a judge, religious leader, or someone specially appointed to conduct marriages.
  5. Witnesses: While not required, having witnesses is recommended.
  6. Divorce Status: If previously married, you must provide proof that the prior marriage has been dissolved through divorce, death, or annulment.

The key point here is the last one – you must be legally single before entering into a new marriage. This brings us to our main topic: multiple marriages.

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Sequential Marriages vs. Simultaneous Marriages

When discussing multiple marriages, it’s crucial to distinguish between sequential marriages (getting married, divorced, then remarried) and simultaneous marriages (being married to multiple people at the same time).

Sequential Marriages

In Texas, there is no limit on the number of sequential marriages you can have. You can get married, divorced, and remarried as many times as you want, provided you follow the legal process each time. This means:

  1. Legally ending each marriage through divorce, annulment, or the death of a spouse
  2. Obtaining a new marriage license for each new marriage
  3. Meeting all other legal requirements for marriage

Some famous Texans have been married multiple times. For example, the late businessman and politician Ross Perot was married twice, while actress Jerry Hall (born in Texas) has been married four times.

Simultaneous Marriages

Simultaneous marriages, also known as bigamy or polygamy, are illegal in Texas. The Texas Penal Code, Section 25.01, clearly states that a person commits an offense if they are legally married and:

  1. Purport to marry or marry another person
  2. Live with another person under the appearance of being married

Bigamy is a felony offense in Texas, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

It’s worth noting that there are some defenses to bigamy charges in Texas. For example, if a person reasonably believed their prior marriage was dissolved or void, they may have a valid defense. However, it’s always best to ensure all previous marriages are legally ended before entering into a new one.

The Divorce Process in Texas

Since getting divorced is a prerequisite for remarrying in Texas (unless widowed), it’s important to understand the basics of the divorce process:

  1. Residency Requirement: At least one spouse must have been a Texas resident for six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for 90 days.
  2. Grounds for Divorce: Texas allows both fault and no-fault divorces. No-fault grounds include “insupportability” (irreconcilable differences). Fault grounds include adultery, cruelty, felony conviction, abandonment, living apart for at least 3 years, or confinement to a mental hospital.
  3. Waiting Period: There’s a 60-day waiting period from the date of filing before a divorce can be finalized (with some exceptions).
  4. Property Division: Texas is a community property state, meaning most property acquired during the marriage is split 50/50.
  5. Alimony: Spousal maintenance may be awarded in certain circumstances.
  6. Child Custody and Support: If children are involved, the court will make decisions based on the best interests of the child.

The divorce process can be complex and time-consuming, which is why some people choose to remain legally married even after separating from their spouse. However, this can create legal complications if one wishes to remarry.


Cultural and Social Perspectives on Multiple Marriages

While there’s no legal limit on sequential marriages in Texas, societal attitudes towards multiple marriages can vary. Some people view repeated marriages as a sign of commitment issues or instability, while others see them as a natural part of finding the right partner.

In Texas, a state known for its blend of traditional values and individual freedom, attitudes can be mixed. Some communities, particularly in rural areas, may look askance at multiple marriages. In contrast, urban areas might be more accepting.

It’s also worth noting that religious beliefs can play a significant role in attitudes towards marriage and divorce. Texas has a diverse religious landscape, with large populations of Protestants, Catholics, and growing numbers of other faiths. Some religious communities may discourage divorce and remarriage, while others are more accepting.

Financial and Legal Implications of Multiple Marriages

While there’s no legal limit on how many times you can marry in Texas, multiple marriages can have significant financial and legal implications:

  1. Alimony: If you’re paying alimony to a former spouse, this obligation typically ends if you remarry. However, if you’re receiving alimony, it usually ends if you remarry.
  2. Social Security Benefits: Multiple marriages can affect your eligibility for certain Social Security benefits based on a former spouse’s record.
  3. Inheritance: Multiple marriages can complicate inheritance issues, especially if there are children from different marriages.
  4. Prenuptial Agreements: With each new marriage, you might consider a prenuptial agreement to protect assets, especially if you have children from previous marriages.
  5. Name Changes: Changing your name with each marriage (and potentially changing it back after divorce) can be a complex process affecting various legal documents and accounts.
  6. Tax Implications: Your marital status affects your tax filing status, deductions, and potentially your tax bracket.
  7. Health Insurance: Remarriage can affect eligibility for health insurance coverage under a former spouse’s plan.

Given these potential complications, it’s advisable to consult with a family law attorney and a financial advisor when considering remarriage, especially if it’s not your first marriage.

Statistics on Marriage and Divorce in Texas

To put multiple marriages in context, let’s look at some statistics:

  • According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 177,015 marriages in Texas in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available).
  • In the same year, there were 76,423 divorces in Texas.
  • The divorce rate in Texas is slightly lower than the national average, at about 2.6 per 1,000 population compared to the national rate of 2.9.
  • About 30% of all marriages in Texas involve at least one partner who has been previously married.

These statistics suggest that while first marriages are still the norm, remarriages make up a significant portion of marriages in Texas.

Alternatives to Traditional Marriage in Texas

For those who have had multiple marriages and are hesitant about formally marrying again, Texas offers some alternatives:

  1. Cohabitation: Living together without getting married is legal in Texas. However, it’s important to note that Texas doesn’t recognize “common law” marriages in the same way some other states do.
  2. Domestic Partnerships: While Texas doesn’t have a statewide domestic partnership registry, some cities like Austin and Dallas offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
  3. Cohabitation Agreements: Couples can create legal agreements that outline property rights, financial responsibilities, and other aspects of their relationship without getting married.

These alternatives can provide some of the benefits of marriage without the legal complications of a formal marriage.

Conclusion

In Texas, there is no legal limit on how many times you can get married, as long as each previous marriage has been legally ended before the next one begins. However, the process of ending one marriage and beginning another involves legal, financial, and emotional complexities that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Whether you’re considering your second marriage or your fifth, it’s crucial to approach the decision with careful thought and planning. Consider seeking advice from legal and financial professionals to understand the implications fully. Remember, while Texas law allows for multiple marriages, the goal should always be to enter into a marriage with the intention of it being a lasting, fulfilling partnership.

Ultimately, the number of times you can or should get married is a deeply personal decision. Texas law provides the freedom to make that choice, but with that freedom comes the responsibility to make informed, thoughtful decisions about your relationships and your future.

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