Common Law Marriage
DO YOU KNOW YOUR RIGHTS?
In Texas, a couple can be married without going through a formal marriage ceremony and licensing procedure. This is called a common law marriage. The couple has many, if not all, of the same rights as other married couples.
People in common law marriages often have questions about their legal status. We can help you answer these questions. The Law Offices of Mary Ann Beaty, P.C., has experience with all areas of Texas family law, including common law marriage. To make an appointment with a Dallas common law marriage lawyer, please call 800-491-7565 or contact us online.
REPRESENTATION FROM AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
Common law marriages are recognized by the state as legal marriages, but they can be hard to prove or disprove. A common law marriage is one that is not presided over by a member of the clergy or a judge, and customarily might also lack a ceremonial moment to mark the beginning of the marriage. Instead, the couple intend to be husband and wife, live together as husband and wife, and represent to others that they are husband and wife. Some couples may exchange vows in the presence of family or community members. This ceremony may be used as proof of an agreement to be married, or the couple may execute a declaration of informal marriage and file with the county clerk showing their agreement to be married, which is the first requirement for a common law marriage.
The couple must also have represented themselves to others as husband and wife. Filing a joint tax return is a good way to prove that you have done this. The final requirement for a common law marriage is that the couple must have lived together in Texas as husband and wife.
If the couple wishes, they may file paperwork to establish the date of their marriage. If they meet the requirements mentioned above, the state may legally recognize their marriage. Once the marriage is legally recognized, it is subject to the same laws governing other marriages.
If the couple divorces, their property will be considered community property when it is divided. Legally establishing the marriage also affects decisions about children and custody, as well as inheritance rights in probate.