Texas is one of the few states that recognize common law marriages. Additionally, Texas law also recognizes common law divorce. Here’s what you need to know about this unique legal situation.
What is Common Law Marriage in Texas?
Common law marriage (also called an “informal marriage” or “de facto marriage”) occurs when two consenting adults agree to live together and present themselves as married.
Besides living together, the couple would also need to maintain the household as any typical married couple would, such as filing joint tax returns, wearing wedding rings, or buying a home together.
In Texas, there is no specific number of years a couple must cohabitate to be considered for a common law marriage.
Instead, courts review each scenario on a case-by-case basis to determine if there’s enough evidence that a common law marriage exists. Same-sex couples can also have a de facto marriage in Texas using the same requirements.
Like those in a traditional marriage, sometimes people in a common law marriage decide to end the relationship. At that point, their financial affairs may be so entangled that there may be issues involving child custody and property division.
Sorting through these issues may require a formal end to the relationship.
Ending Common Law Marriages in Texas
Common-law marriages have the same legal status as formal marriages in Texas. To end the marriage, you must go through the divorce process.
One unique part of this process is that the common-law couple must prove to the court that they were legally married before they can be legally divorced.
Common Law Divorce in Texas
There’s no separate classification for “common law divorce” in Texas. Instead, the couple must go through a regular divorce when they end the relationship.
Warning: if the couple doesn’t go through the legal process of divorce within two years of separating, the Texas courts may not view the common law marriage as valid.
What You Need to Know About Common Law Divorce and Texas Law
In summary, here’s what you need to know about legally ending an informal marriage.
- The couple must have lived and presented themselves publicly as married.
- To formally end the relationship, there must be proof that a legally valid common law marriage existed.
- Once the common law marriage is proven valid, the couple can go through the typical divorce process – but time is of the essence.
Since there are extra steps involved in ending a common law marriage, it’s essential that you work with a Texas law firm with a robust family law department.
After all, a lot may be at stake as you dissolve your relationship – including matters of community property and the custody of minor children. A divorce attorney will help ensure your best interests and legal rights are protected.
Have a Texas Common Law Marriage Issue?
Are you looking for a divorce attorney in Texas to help you with a divorce? The attorneys at Wilson Brown, PLLC, are ready to answer any questions you may have about divorcing your common law spouse.
Learn about the legal requirements and how to protect your interests by scheduling a free consultation.
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