Martinez v. Lopez

2011 WL 2112806 (2011)

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Martinez v. Lopez

Texas Court of Appeals
2011 WL 2112806 (2011)

Facts

In 2000, Jilverto Martinez (defendant) was married to his wife when he began dating Martha Lopez (plaintiff), who was pregnant with a child, A.L., from another relationship. Martinez’s divorce was final in June 2001, and Lopez gave birth to Martinez’s child, G.M, the following month. Martinez, Lopez, A.L, and G.M. began living together upon G.M.’s birth. Martinez and Lopez had a second child together, J.M., in 2002. The two adults and three children lived together until March 2008. In May 2008, G.M began to live with Martinez. Martinez later petitioned for custody of and parenting time with J.M. Lopez responded with a counterpetition for divorce, alleging that Lopez and Martinez had a common-law marriage. At trial, Lopez testified that she and Martinez presented themselves as husband and wife to friends and relatives; Martinez financially supported the family while Lopez managed all the domestic chores and childcare; Martinez and Lopez raised the children as father and mother; and Martinez and Lopez shopped for a truck, property, and a trailer together, though Lopez’s name did not appear on any of the titles to the property. Martinez claimed A.L., G.M., and J.M. as his dependents on his tax return and filed as head of household. Lopez admitted during trial that Martinez had informed Lopez that Martinez was not Lopez’s husband, Martinez was careful to not pass as her husband, and Martinez did not view or treat Lopez as his wife. Lopez testified that she felt like Martinez’s wife. Martinez did not testify whether he ever agreed to be married to Lopez but did not contradict any of Lopez’s testimony. The trial court found that Lopez and Martinez did have a common-law marriage. Martinez appealed, arguing that Lopez’s testimony established that Martinez did not agree to marry.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keyes, J.)

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