Though it may seem simple, the legal proceedings surrounding marriage actually have strict rules. Each state has its own set of annulment and prohibited marriage laws that prohibit marriages under certain circumstances.
A prohibited marriage is void because the marriage was never lawful. Generally, there's no need to get an annulment or divorce in these cases. Commonly prohibited marriages typically include bigamous marriages, where a person tries to marry more than one spouse, or incestuous marriages, where a person tries to marry a relative.
An annulment, on the other hand, is a way to avoid a marriage that would be otherwise invalid. While both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, an annulment wipes the slate clean as if there had been no marriage to begin with. However, you usually need to get an annulment within a certain time limit, so it is important to act promptly if you are considering an annulment.
This article provides a brief overview of annulment and prohibited marriages in the state of Texas.
Annulment and Prohibited Marriages Laws in Texas
Learn more about Texas annulment and prohibited marriage laws in the table below. See Marriage Law Overview for more general information.
Grounds for Annulment
- Underage marriage: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage of a person age 16 or older but under 18 that occurred without parental consent or without a court order; a petition for annulment may be filed by a next friend for the benefit of the underage party, a parent, or the judicially designated managing conservator or guardian of the underage party (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.102)
- Incapacity to consent under the influence of alcohol/narcotics: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage if, at the time of the marriage, the petitioner was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and did not have the capacity to consent to marriage and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since the effects of the alcohol or narcotics ended (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.105)
- Impotency: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage to a party to the marriage if either party, for physical or mental reasons, was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, the petitioner did not know of the impotence at the time of the marriage, and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of impotence (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.106)
- Fraud, duress, or force: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage to a party if the other party used fraud, duress, or force to induce the petitioner to enter into the marriage and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.107)
- Mental incapacity to consent: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage if, at the time of the marriage, the petitioner did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or to understand the nature of the marriage ceremony because of a mental disease or defect and, since the marriage ceremony, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party during a period when the petitioner possessed the mental capacity to recognize the marriage relationship (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.108)
- Concealed divorce: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage if the non-petitioning party was divorced from a third party within the 30-day period preceding the date of the marriage, and at the time of the marriage ceremony, the petitioner did not know and a reasonably prudent person would not have known of the divorce, and since the petitioner discovered the divorce, the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.109)
- Within 72-hour waiting period: The court may grant an annulment of a marriage to a party to the marriage if the marriage ceremony took place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.110)
Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment
- Underage: Suit to annul must be brought within 90 days of the fourteenth birthday of the underage party or 90 days of when the petitioner knew or should have known (but not after the 18th birthday) (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.102)
- Concealed divorce: Suit to annul must be brought before the first anniversary of marriage (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.109)
- Within 72-hour waiting period: Suit to annul must be brought before the 30th day of the marriage (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.102)
Legitimacy of Children
|The issue of a marriage declared void or voided by annulment shall be treated in the same manner as the issue of a valid marriage (Tex. Est. Code § 201.055)
- Consanguinity: A marriage is void if one party to the marriage is related to the other as an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption; a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; or a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.201)
- Marriage to stepchild or stepparent: A marriage is void if a party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.206)
- Marriage during the existence of prior marriage: A marriage is void if entered into when either party has an existing marriage to another person that has not been dissolved by legal action or terminated by the death of the other spouse; if a person does marry to purports to marry a person other than their spouse, they are guilty of bigamy under Texas Penal Code § 25.01 (Tex. Fam. Code § 6.202)
- The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) established that bans on same-sex marriages in any state violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. With this ruling, same-sex marriages were legalized.
- On December 13, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified laws related to protections for same-sex marriage.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Texas Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions About Texas Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws? Ask a Lawyer
If you are considering annulling your marriage or have questions regarding its legitimacy, you should speak to a local divorce attorney. An experienced attorney can view the specific facts of your case and give you legal advice using the relevant laws of your jurisdiction.
Get started by speaking to a skilled family law attorney in Texas today.