Responsibilities & Obligations of Spouses in Marriage (2024)

Responsibilities & Obligations of Spouses in Marriage (1)

In this insightful article, we delve into the often-overlooked yet crucial aspect of marital life: the duties you owe to your spouse in marriage. While love and affection form the bedrock of any marriage, there are specific responsibilities and obligations that each partner must uphold to foster a healthy, respectful, and enduring relationship.

If you are a person who finds yourself wondering if something your spouse said or a family member told you about marriage is accurate, then you ought to stick around and see if one of today’s subtopics on this subject correlates to your particular situation.

Spouse Duties in Marriage: Do You Have to Work if You Are Married in Texas?

What if, after you’ve taken your vows of marriage, your spouse suddenly refuses to go to work one morning. More days pass by, and your spouse tells you that she will not be returning to work- possibly for good. To that point, you had been a stay-at-home spouse taking care of the home and all of the responsibilities that come along with it. Previously, you were the stay-at-home spouse, managing home responsibilities—a mutual agreement before marriage. Time has passed, and now you face an unexpected shift in roles.

You may be asking: can you force your spouse to go back to work? As in, can you file a lawsuit against your spouse and ask a judge to move your spouse back into the workforce? After all, your spouse told you that she would be the primary income earner in your marriage. Especially since she pledged to be the main income provider, breaking that promise raises questions about your legal rights.

In marriage duties, where both spouses live together and aren’t seeking divorce, a judge lacks authority to mandate job-seeking to support the other. If you are familiar with family law courts and family lawsuits, then you know that the friends and neighbors that we have in our community do more than enough to keep these judges busy on any given day. The last thing a judge will want to do is weigh in on a private, family matter that does not relate to a law contained in the Texas Family Code.

After a Divorce, What About a Court Forcing You to Work in That Situation?

Post-divorce, a court can’t directly order you to secure employment outside the home. However, it can create circ*mstances where working becomes almost necessary. If a judge decides you owe spousal support post-marriage, you might need to work to fulfill spousal maintenance obligations. Failing to pay the mandated maintenance can lead to contempt of court charges.

Can You Sue Your Spouse Independent of a Divorce Lawsuit?

Yes, you and your spouse can sue one another for various causes of action. If you and your spouse have engaged in a financial transaction of some sort where one of you operated in bad faith, then either of you may sue the other. You can often utilize this premise as a “fault” that led to your divorce. The result of citing a specific fault ground for your divorce may be that you can convince a judge to award you a disproportionate (greater than 50% share) of the community estate in your divorce.

If Your Divorce Goes to Trial, Will You Be Able to Testify Against Your Spouse Potentially?

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Some people are under the impression that there is still a law on the books that prohibits one spouse from testifying against the other spouse regarding communications they made to one another during their marriage. This is no longer the case, however. It is common for spouses to testify against one another in conjunction with their divorce cases in today’s legal world. This is also true in most instances where you or your spouse have filed a lawsuit against the other, not in conjunction with a divorce.

What if You Are Not Married to the Person You Are Living With? Can You Create a Property Agreement With That Person That Is Enforceable in Court?

Many people romantically engage with partners they are not married to. Statistics often show that in the United States, this form of cohabitation is more common than living with a spouse. The law, however, does not regard unmarried cohabitants as married. For example, Texas’s community property rules don’t apply to unmarried couples unless they meet common law marriage criteria. For simplicity, let’s assume that you and your partner are not married, whether common law or otherwise.

However, if you and your partner are willing, you can agree on property that can be enforceable in a courtroom. These contracts typically fall under general contract law rather than family law. If you and your partner choose to agree on what bills you or your partner will pay or what share of specific property each of you owns relative to the other person, then a Texas court will find that to be an enforceable agreement in most circ*mstances.

Remember that the general guidelines I gave in yesterday’s blog post on premarital agreements would typically hold in situations involving you and your unmarried partner. It is always best for both of you to have an attorney advising you and to have that agreement put in writing.

An oral contract may be enforceable, but it will take time, money, and lawyering to have a court see it that way. While enforceable, oral contracts require more effort, time, and legal resources to uphold in court. That means both sides but give and take in the contract.

What About an Exchange of the Home for Support in an Unmarried Relationship? Will This Be Held to Be Valid by a Court?

From my experience and knowledge, it is unlikely that a court would find this a valid and enforceable agreement. You probably won’t get a promise like this from your partner in writing. Usually, this type of promise is also based on your relationship continuing. Courts are unlikely to enforce such vague, oral promises without additional compelling circ*mstances, which go beyond the scope of a blog post.

The other consideration I would want you to take in is the age-old bargain of “financial support in exchange for sexual relations.” In my opinion, it would not be a stretch for a court to assume that this was the sort of agreement that you and your partner hatched together. The look and the feel of it are close to something illegal. Even if this was not your intent, a court could easily read this into your situation and declare the agreement void.

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All told, if you and your partner contract an exchange of property that has a specific, tangible value to it, that is usually the basis for an enforceable agreement. Once you get into a situation where you ask your spouse to pay you for an intangible, hard to quantify or value service, you get into the zone of unenforceability.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the duties owed to a spouse in marriage are multifaceted and essential for a strong, lasting partnership. Recognizing and fulfilling these responsibilities – be they emotional, financial, legal, or moral – not only strengthens the bond between partners but also lays the foundation for a supportive, loving, and respectful relationship. By embracing these duties, couples can navigate the complexities of married life together, ensuring a fulfilling and harmonious union.

The Law Office of Bryan fa*gan, PLLC

If you have any questions about today’s blog post subject matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan fa*gan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with a licensed family law attorney where your questions can be addressed and answered.

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Bryan fa*gan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.

Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.

His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.

Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.

Responsibilities & Obligations of Spouses in Marriage (2024)
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