There is a strong presumption in Texas law in favor of marriage. When a question arises as to the validity of a current marriage because of a prior marriage, the presumption says that the current marriage is the one that’s presumed valid. You would think there wouldn’t be very many cases on this issue, but I’ve actually seen a couple recently. Here’s one of those:
In re A.M. is a case out of the Dallas Court of Appeals, released 12/16/13. There, the husband (H2) argued that his marriage to Wife was void because Wife allegedly never divorced her prior husband (H1). In support, H2 provided documentation from two foreign governments showing no divorce between Wife and H1. Wife, however, provided a document, signed by H1, issued by an Islamic mosque in England reciting that Wife was “totally emancipated from the matrimonial relationship” with H1. Wife also provided a Pakistani divorce decree issued “in accordance [with] Mohammedan Law” which was also signed by H1. H2’s expert testified that H1’s alleged signatures to those documents were likely not genuine. Despite H1’s evidence to the contrary, the trial court found that Wife was divorced from H1 when she married H2—therefore the marriage between H2 and Wife was not void. Accordingly, the trial court granted the divorce between H2 and Wife and divided the community estate. H2 appealed.
The Dallas Court of Appeals held on to the fact that there was some evidence that the divorce between Wife and H1 happened. Since the trial court is the best judge of the credibility of the evidence, the trial court had discretion to believe Wife’s evidence and disregard H2’s evidence. Thus, the trial court properly disregarded the contradictory evidence in finding the prior marriage between Wife and H1 ended before the marriage to H2. “This presumption [in favor of the validity of the most recent marriage] is one of the strongest known to law; it is, in itself, evidence; and it may even outweigh positive evidence to the contrary.”