Who Is Included In The Definition Of “Spouse” For Purposes of a Texas Wrongful Death Claim?

Last updated on: June 9, 2020


Losing a family member because of someone’s wrongdoing is never easy. If you have lost your spouse due to the negligence of another, you may be able to recover damages by filing a wrongful death claim. The Texas Wrongful Death Act allows “statutory beneficiaries” to potentially recover damages for the death of a family member. Under Texas law, you may be able to recover damages if you can prove:

  • You are a statutory beneficiary of the family member;
  • The wrongdoer is a person or corporation;
  • The wrongdoer’s wrongful act caused the death of the family member;
  • Your family member would have been entitled to bring an action for the injury had he/she lived; and
  • You suffered an actual injury.

The attorneys at Zinda Law Group have experience handling wrongful death cases due to car accidents, truck wrecks, and more. If you have lost a spouse and are looking to file a wrongful death claim in Texas, contact the experienced lawyers of Zinda Law Group for a free consultation at (800) 863-5312. You will never owe us anything unless we are able to win your case.

What Is The Difference Between A “Statutory Beneficiary” and a Spouse in Texas?

The Texas Wrongful Death Act generally classifies “statutory beneficiaries” as

  • Children of the deceased family member,
  • Parents of the deceased family member, or
  • A spouse of the deceased family member.

In order to be considered a “spouse” in this context, you usually need proof of a formal marriage or proof of an informal marriage. You may also be included as a “spouse” if you were separated, abandoned, or you remarried after the death. Below we will dive deeper into what Texas considers to be a “spouse” under the Texas Wrongful Death Act.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas for the Death of My Spouse?

In short, yes, under Texas law and the Texas Wrongful Death Act, a spouse may file a claim for the wrongful death of the other spouse.

Am I a Spouse by Formal Marriage?

A “formal marriage” in Texas usually requires:

  • A marriage license obtained from a county clerk; and
  • A ceremony performed by an authorized person

The people authorized to perform marriage ceremonies may include: a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest, a Jewish rabbi, a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony, and possibly a judge or justice of our Court system. If you and your spouse signed a marriage license that the clerk issued and had an authorized person perform the marriage ceremony, then you would fall under the “formal marriage” category.

Am I a Spouse by an Informal Marriage?

An “informal marriage” is much different from a “formal marriage.” At the outset, you must have proof that you and your spouse were not married to anyone else at the time of your spouse’s death. In addition to that requirement, there are a few ways to prove an informal marriage. One way to prove an informal marriage is to have a signed declaration of informal marriage. Another way to potentially show an informal marriage is to have proof:

  • You and your spouse agreed to be married;
  • After this agreement, you and your spouse agreed to live together as husband and wife; and
  • You and your spouse represented to the world that you were married.

What if My Spouse and I were Separated at the Time of Their Death?

A spouse who was separated or abandoned at the time of the decedent’s death may be able to bring a wrongful-death claim.

I Remarried After my Ex-Spouse’s Death. Can I Still Make a Wrongful Claim as a Spouse?

If you are still within the two-year statute of limitations, then a spouse who remarried after the decedent’s death may be able to bring a wrongful-death claim in Texas.


At Zinda Law Group, our experienced wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.

Our firm believes that someone who has lost a loved one should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your personal injury claim. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.

If you have lost a spouse loved one due to a wrongful death, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced Texas attorneys.

Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.

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