Whether a minor child’s marriage deprives the court of jurisdiction in a modification

Broussard v. Arnel (Hous. [1st. Dist.] 2019) (01-18-00687-CV)

Link to Court's Opinion

Facts:  During a trial in a suit to modify the parent-child relationship, mother announced to the court that their 15 year-old son went to Missouri and married a 26-year old woman.  Mother filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting that the trial court lost jurisdiction due to the child's emancipation resulting from marriage.   Mother brought forth various argument including "emancipation by marriage," "emancipation by marriage in Missouri," and other Full Faith & Credit arguments.  The trial court denied the plea to the jurisdiction.

Result:  The court of appeals affirmed.   First, the court noted that the child was not married in accordance with Texas law because he had not obtained a court order removing the disability of minority.  Citing Tex. Fam. Code § 1.104 (stating that, except as provided by statute or constitution, marriage emancipates person who has been married "in accordance with the laws of this state"); id. § 6.205 (marriage by person under 18 years of age who has not obtained "a court order" of emancipation is void).  Next, the court rejected mother's argument that Missouri law should apply under a choice-of-law analysis, writing that "we have not found a single case holding that the law of another jurisdiction applies to compel a Texas court to recognize a marriage that is void under our laws."  The court also rejected mother's Full Faith & Credit arguments on similar bases.