Ross v. Goldstein, 203 S.W.3d 508 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2006, no pet.).


Marriage-Like Relationship Doctrine


Son, as the independent administrator of Father’s estate, brought suit against Partner to recover estate assets. Partner argued that the court should adopt the marriage-like relationship doctrine so that he could claim the assets. Both the trial and appellate court rejected Partner’s claim and refused to recognize this doctrine. Partner asserted that the doctrine is an equitable remedy which is not against the public policy of Texas and that it would “aid the courts in addressing the growing reality of same-sex relationships.” Ross at 514. The appellate court explained that it was unwilling to recognize the marriage-like relationship doctrine and that “same-sex couples must address their particular desires through other legal vehicles such as contracts or testamentary transfers.” Id.

The court examined two provisions of Texas law; first, Article 1, § 32 of the Texas Constitution which provides that no state or political subdivision may create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage for same-sex partners and second, Texas Family Code § 6.204 which states that it is contrary to Texas public policy to recognize or give effect to a same-sex marriage or civil union. Accordingly, the court held that it lacked the power to create an equitable remedy akin to marriage.

Moral: Texas does not recognize the marriage-like relationship doctrine and thus unmarried partners must use other legal techniques to achieve their estate planning desires.