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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Monday, April 17, 2017

Texas Courts Refuse to Recognize Cynthia Sinatra as Common-Law Wife of Frank Sinatra, Jr.

Is common-law marriage legal in Texas?

A Texas Supreme Court order recently ended Cynthia Sinatra’s legal quest to be recognized as the common-law wife of Frank Sinatra, Jr.  Cynthia, a Texas attorney, wed the son of the famous singer Frank Sinatra in 1998.  The marriage ended in divorce after two and a half years, but the couple’s relationship continued.  When they again separated, Cynthia Sinatra claimed she and Frank were involved in what amounted to a common-law marriage and she should be entitled to half of all the couple’s assets.  

The trial court in Wharton County sided with Cynthia Sinatra and granted her a second divorce based on the common-law marriage.  Frank Sinatra, Jr. appealed, but passed away while the action was still pending.  His estate took up the appeal and ultimately triumphed, overturning the lower court’s decision.  The court of appeals found that there was no evidence to support the fact that Frank Sinatra, Jr. agreed to remain married after the divorce.  The Texas Supreme Court declined to accept Cynthia Sinatra’s appeal, ending Sinatra’s legal quest.

Common-Law Marriage in Texas

Texas recognizes common-law or informal marriage when certain factors exist.  To be valid, a common-law marriage must meet the following requirements:

  1. The couple must agree to be married;
  2. They must live together as a married couple in Texas; and
  3. The couple must hold themselves out or tell others they are married.

A valid common-law marriage will be treated just like a ceremonial marriage.  To enter into an informal marriage, the spouses must be over the age of 18, not related to one another, and not already married to someone else.

Evidence of the Existence of a Common-Law Marriage

There are several ways to prove the existence of your common-law marriage.  Some possibilities could include proof that you and your informal spouse purchased a home together or applied for a credit card as a married couple.  Witness statements that you and your spouse told others you were married can lend weight to the common-law marriage.  Anyone who has been in an informal marriage and wants to seek a divorce should consult with a Texas divorce attorney as soon as possible for assistance with your case.

 


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