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Common Law Marriage in Texas

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Informal Marriage in Austin, TX

Common law marriage, also called informal marriage, is a legal way for couples in Texas to marry without the formalities of a ceremony or obtaining a license. Although not all states recognize this, other states accept marriages made in Texas because of the “full faith and credit” rule in the United States Constitution.

The origins of common law marriage can be traced back to Medieval England when it was difficult for couples in rural areas to have a church or justice officiant perform their marriage ceremony. Over time, it became possible to establish a marriage informally through common law, which is based on judicial precedent and customs, rather than statutes.

TEXAS FAMILY CODE §2.401(a)(2) specifies the requirements that must be met and substantiated with evidence before a common law marriage can be recognized in Texas:

  1. The man and woman mutually agreed to be married;
  2. Following the agreement, they lived together in the state of Texas as husband and wife;
  3. They represented themselves to others as being married.

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    The Complexities of Common Law Marriage in Texas

    It is important to note that, although the Texas Constitution still defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, a same-sex couple can enter into a common law marriage according to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.

    Signification of Marriage:

    • Exchanging rings
    • Introducing each other as spouses
    • Filing joint tax returns
    • Signing joint credit applications
    • Adding both spouses to memberships

    These and other similar behaviors can demonstrate that a couple represents themselves as married under informal marriage.

    To register their common law marriage, couples may contact their county clerk and complete a “Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage” form.

    However, a common law marriage cannot be established if one or both parties are under 18 years of age, if one party is already married to someone else, if the couple is related, or if the couple is formally engaged to be married.

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    Why Work With Our Firm

    With You Every Step of the Way

    We understand that your case is unique and that a one-size-fits-all approach to divorce cases is not in your best interest. That’s why, at our law firm, we are dedicated to providing personalized attention to every client and pursuing the best possible outcome for their case.

    Each case has its own factors and variables that set it apart, and we believe that thorough preparation and a determined approach are necessary to achieve the best results for our clients. We strive to understand your unique situation and work closely with you to create a tailored strategy that meets your specific needs.

    Marriage matters we handle:

    • Adoption
    • Divorce
    • Child custody
    • Child support
    • Division of property
    • Modifications

    Myths of Informal Marriage

    There is a common myth that a minimum length of time is required for a relationship to be recognized as a common-law marriage in Texas. However, the reality is that there is no set minimum time, and each case is reviewed on its own merits under the TEXAS FAMILY CODE.

    Another myth is that a common-law marriage can eliminate the need for a divorce if the couple decides to end their relationship. Once a common law marriage has been established and recognized as valid, the couple will need to obtain a standard divorce in order to terminate their relationship.

    Suppose a couple decides to end their common law marriage. In that case, the party seeking a divorce must file within two years of their physical separation, or there may be a presumption that no marriage ever existed.

    Common law marriages can be complicated, particularly when children are involved, or when property or health issues arise. Many legal rights are only granted to legally married couples, making it important to carefully consider the decision to enter into a common law marriage.

    informal marriage austin tx

    Contact Our Law Firm Today

    If you need help proving a common law marriage in Texas and are looking for a family law attorney in Austin, we are here to assist you. Schedule a confidential case review with our founder and divorce lawyer, Aishah McCoy, by contacting us today. You can call our firm at (214) 507-0892 or visit our contact page to schedule your appointment online.

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