I get this question in a variety of forms from time to time and thought it would make a good topic for a blog post. To answer the question simply: no, Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage. But what does this mean to LGBTQ couples who've married in states that do recognize their unions?
1. Divorce is not an option in Texas.
Texas has no legal mechanism to arrange for visitation and conservatorship of children born to parents in same-sex relationships. This issue continues to be hotly contested as U.S. Supreme Court rulings continue to strike down state same-sex marriage bans. While LGBTQ couples can divide their property through a process known as partition under the Texas Property Code, the prospect of divorce available to heterosexual couples is not yet an option. For interesting reading on the controversy surrounding this issue, check out this article.
2. Your partner will not get your property if you die without a will.
Texas laws concerning what happens to your stuff when you die automatically give your children, parents, and siblings rights to your property, but they do not make allowances for non-family members. If you are gay and in Texas, you need to write a will to make sure your wishes are carried out upon your death. For more compelling reasons to write a valid will, check out this article.
3. Your partner may not be allowed to make medical decisions for you.
Similar to the problem in point 2, the state of Texas places the responsibility of deciding medical decisions in the event of an emergency in the hands of immediate family members. If you are married or in a committed relationship that is not legally recognized, you run the risk of your partner being asked to step aside while your family takes the lead in a medical emergency. If you want to ensure your partner has access to you in an emergency and can speak on your behalf in a crisis, it's imperative that you designate him or her as your medical power of attorney in the event of incapacity.
For more information about the unique estate planning needs of gays and lesbians, please give us a call at (713) 574-8626 to schedule an initial consultation.