Estate of Matthews, 510 S.W.3d 106 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2016, pet. denied).

Miscellaneous Matters

Voiding Marriage After Death


Husband and Wife were married. Approximately two months later, Husband committed suicide. Although Husband did not leave Wife any property in his will, instead leaving his estate to his Father, Wife claimed homestead rights. Originally, the dispute was resolved by a Rule 11 Settlement agreement but the court later set it aside as Wife was not in compliance with the agreement. Father then succeeded in convincing the jury to void the marriage on the ground that Husband lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage due to his physical and mental health issues, especially given the fact that Wife was Husband’s former in-home health aide.


The appellate court affirmed. The court first explained that there was sufficient evidence to set aside the settlement agreement because Wife intentionally made deceptive and fraudulent promises to Father to induce him into signing the agreement.


The court next addressed Wife’s claim that Father lacked standing to set aside the marriage because he was not an interested person as Estates Code § 123.102 requires for a person to have standing to set aside a marriage after one of the spouses has died. Although Father brought the action in his capacity as the executor of Husband’s will (a non-interested capacity under Estates Code § 22.018), Wife failed to raise the issue timely and thus it was deemed waived.


The court next reviewed the evidence which showed that Husband had multiple sclerosis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition, Husband was a frequent abuser of marijuana and alcohol. Although there was also evidence showing that Husband had capacity, the jury’s verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence and the jury’s determination was not clearly wrong or manifestly unjust.


Moral:  A person using the “bad spouse” statute (Estates Code § 123.102) to annul a marriage after a spouse’s death should bring the action in a capacity that clearly makes the person qualify as an “interested person” to avoid having litigation focused around procedural issues rather than the issue of whether the person actually had capacity to enter into the marriage.