What is Common-Law Marriage?
In states like Texas, Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, Common-Law Marriages are recognized.
Basically, you are in a Common-Law Marriage if you and your partner are cohabiting as husband and wife. In this situation, even if you both have the legal capacity to marry (e.g. of legal age, no legal impediments to marry), you didn’t marry each other by going through any form of solemnization or ceremony.
When a State recognizes Common-Law Marriages, it treats unmarried couples who are cohabiting as husband and wife similarly as those lawfully wedded couples. Rights and obligations between unmarried couples also arise.
There are many Texans who are not aware of the statutory requirements of a Common-Law Marriage.
“Am I married?” seems like an absurd question in a State that does not recognize Common-Law Marriages. However, in Texas, you can’t be so sure.
I have encountered people who were sued for divorce even if they were never married. One might ask, “How does a man with no wife get sued for divorce?”
Have you and your partner lived together? Have you purchased a real estate property together? Have you introduced each other as being husband and wife at least once in any occasion? Have you filed taxes together? Do you have children together? Then you might be informally married. You do not need a marriage ceremony to be considered as husband and wife under Texas law. When in doubt, it is best to talk to a lawyer to know your status for sure.
I also know of a man who was already divorced but after the divorce, he cohabited with his ex-wife. He supported his ex-wife and added her to his insurance policy who she greatly benefitted from. The ex-wife filed another divorce. The man thought it was foolish because as far as he was concerned, they were already divorced. He later found out that the state of Texas considered them as husband and wife again, this time as Common-Law Marriage spouses. The second divorce filed by his ex wife, therefore, is valid.
What is a Declaration of Informal Marriage?
This is a document that you and your partner can file in the county clerk. It will serve as prima facie evidence that you’ve entered into an informal marriage. You can also choose the date of marriage.
It may take just one instance to make you a married man or woman. Say, you filed an affidavit of informal marriage just once, that’s actually enough to be informally married with someone.
In case of doubt as to the status or relationship of persons, there will be a hearing. For example, if you allege that you are in a Common-Law Marriage with someone, you need to present evidence in a proper trial in court. Evidence must show that parties intended to have a present, immediate, and permanent marital relationship. Documentary evidence is not the only proof accepted in court. Your actions and your partner’s can be used to prove whether or not there is marriage. There must be a clear showing that both parties maintained a household jointly. There is no minimum period of cohabitation.
Another important thing to prove to court is that the relationship must be open and public. In other words, there can be no secret Common-Law Marriage.
Is there a Common-Law Divorce?
No, there is no such thing. It’s just divorce, like that of a formal marriage. Common-Law Marriages can only be terminated through divorce, annulment, or death.
You may be in a situation where you want to prove or disprove a Common-Law Marriage. It is important that you ask a lawyer to find out for sure what your status is and what you should do going forward.
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I have heard of common law marriages, I am glad that you’re sharing information about them.
That is very insightful, thank you so much for the info, didn’t know half of these stuff.
This is great information! Thanks!
Super interesting read… the rules are so different everywhere! It’s always nice when someone can explain these things in simple to understand terms!
i learned something new today. i have heard of it before but did not really understand it fully. thanks for enlightening me.
I have never know that there is such thing as a Common-Law Marriage but the thing is it is so important to know your status when you undergone in this kind of marriage.
This is interesting. I wasn’t aware of Texas not supporting Common-Law marriages. Also, that there isn’t a thing as Common-Law Divorce.
Honestly, on my first read I really don’t understand what is Common-Law Marriage. On my second read I have a bit understanding that this is a kind of marriage that you really don’t need to go in a serious ceremony as what normal couples do with their marriage.
Good info that would be useful for a lot of people, not so much for myself though as I don’t live in Texas!
Wow I didn’t know that there were all these stipulations regarding common law marriages. I believe information is power.
I think that is great! Florida doesn’t have a common law marriage, however Florida does recognize common law marriages that occurred in other states.
My brother was in one of these – yes – but now, HE IS FINALLY MARRIED! ha!
That is WILD! I had no idea common law marriage is still a thing. My state doesn’t acknowledge it however, this is great info for people who live in the states you mentioned. Better make some smart choices with that relationship
This is such an informative post. honestly, I don’t really know much about Common-Law partnership. Thanks for sharing this.
I am in a common-law relationship. I am planning to move into Texas and this things would really help a lot.
I had no idea about Common Law marriages in Texas and thanks for sharing some info! I’m sure it will help many who are going through this circumstance!
Great article about Common-Law Marriage. I’m not married yet! but it gives me a lot of information about this article.
What an informative article. It was great to know such in depth information on common law marriages.
Wow this i weird. Texas is just weird…. never heard about such a thing like this before. 😀