Archives: Glossary



  • Marriage

    Marriage is a legally sanctioned contract between two adults, whether performed in a religious or civil ceremony. Texas requires a license to get married.

    Texas does not require a blood test to issue a marriage license. You can marry three days after your marriage license is issued, and your license is good for 89 days after it’s issued. After that time, a new license is required to marry.

    In Texas, as in most states, you must be of the age of consent, not be too closely related to your intended spouse, not be married to anyone else, and have sufficient “mental capacity,” meaning you understand what you are doing when you marry.

    Common Law Marriage

    • Common law marriage in Texas can be proven by:
      1. filing a declaration of informal marriage with the county clerk
      2. providing evidence in a legal proceeding that the couple:
        • lived together in Texas as a husband and wife
        • represented to others that they are married
        • had an agreement to be married.

    Generally, the couple has two years after they stopped living together to ask the court to recognize their marriage. Not all states recognize common law marriage. Visit for more information on common law marriage.

  • Mediation

    Mediation is a confidential, problem-solving process in which a neutral, skilled third person, the mediator, helps parties reach a voluntary agreement. The mediator does not decide how the dispute should be resolved. The mediator helps the parties (you and the other parent) develop agreements that are satisfactory to all parties. Mediation can help parents and other caregivers, including grandparents and stepparents, iron out differences and get back to the business of raising a healthy and happy child.

  • Medical Support

    Child support orders will name one of the parents to provide health insurance or a cash payment towards the child’s cost of insurance. The portion of medical costs that insurance does not cover will be divided between the parents. This also includes dental and vision expenses that are not covered by insurance. A specific amount of money a noncustodial parent is ordered to pay to cover the medical needs of each child on the case is sometimes called cash medical support.

  • Mistaken Paternity

    Mistaken paternity is when a man who has been legally declared the father of a child later learns that he is not the father. Texas law allows courts to terminate the parent-child relationship and the duty to pay child support in circumstances of mistaken paternity. Men who meet the requirements of the law may seek court-ordered genetic testing. If testing excludes a man as the child’s biological father, the court may terminate the parent-child relationship and the duty to pay future child support. The man is still responsible for arrears that accrued up to the termination date.

    Mistaken Paternity on

  • Modification

    A modification is a change to an order, for example a change to child support, medical support, conservatorship, or possession. For example, you might seek to change the amount of child support or who provides medical insurance. A court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction may change the order that provides for the conservatorship, support, or possession of and access to a child.

    An agreed or uncontested modification case is uncontested when you and the other parties in your case agree (no one is contesting) to change terms in a previous order about custody, visitation, or child support. Contact the local law library in the county that originally issued your order for help, or online go to Modification Kit . If there is no agreement, a judge will hear the evidence and make a decision for you.

  • Motion

    A motion is a written, legal document filed with a clerk of a court asking the judge to take some sort of action. This tells the judge that someone on the case wants to make a change to or enforce the current order.