Informal Marriage in Texas

When most people think of marriage, they think of all the trimmings of a wedding to formally start the marriage, whether it’s a traditional church wedding, an outdoor wedding, a destination wedding, or a courthouse ceremony. However, in some states, there are also informal marriages where a traditional wedding never occurs, but the couple meets the criteria to call themselves married. Learn more about common law marriage, whether or not it’s legal in Texas, and what to do if you’re informally married but no longer want to be together as husband and wife.


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What Is Common Law Marriage?

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Common law marriage is also known as an informal marriage. Several factors need to be met for a couple to be considered married through an informal marriage. The first is that the couple has an agreement with each other that they are to be considered married. It has to be agreed upon by both parties. In addition, once this agreement has been made, the couple needs to live together in the state like any other married couple. Finally, they must reflect to others outside of their marriage that they are married, such as filing out paperwork as husband and wife or telling other people they’re a married couple. This last requirement is called “holding out.” You may be surprised to find out that there is no length requirement for how long a couple has been together to consider themselves in a common-law marriage.

Validating Common Law Marriage

There are two ways that a couple can validate their common-law marriage in Texas. First, they can get a Declaration of Informal Marriage through the courts. This document declares to the courts that they meet the requirements for a common law marriage in Texas and should be joined as husband and wife. The other way to do so is to appear before the court to prove their informal marriage.

Are Informal Marriages Legal in Texas?

Informal marriages or common law marriages are legal in Texas. In fact, only eight other states recognize common-law marriages as legal partnerships. Keep in mind that informal marriages have the same requirements to be legal as traditional marriages. The couple must be at least 18 years of age. Also, neither party can be already married to someone else. If either person is a minor or married, the common law marriage would be null and void.

Proving Common Law Marriage

One of the trickiest parts of a Texas informal marriage is being able to prove you’re in an informal marriage relating to the “holding out” requirement. There needs to be evidence that not only did both parties consider themselves to be married, but there also needs to be evidence that their community believed them to be married. Documentation such as life insurance policies, credit reports, bills, and similar items are only part of the evidence needed to prove a common-law marriage. There should be people in their families and their community that believe them to be married and are willing to attest to the fact that they lived as a married couple. Those couples who received the validation for their marriage with a Declaration of Informal Marriage will have a much easier time proving their common law marriage than those that didn’t take this step.

Ending Common Law Marriage

As common law marriage is a valid and legal marriage in Texas, it’s necessary to go through the steps to dissolve the marriage in the same manner as a traditional marriage. Divorce in common law marriage does require divorce proceedings to divide property, determine custody, and handle any obligations for support. Things can be complicated when the informal marriage is not considered valid by the courts when it comes to handling the separation of the two individuals. That’s where an experienced divorce attorney who understands common law marriage can be crucial to protecting your interests during this process.

Choosing Eric M. Willie P.C. Austin Divorce Lawyer

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Suppose you’re in an informal marriage and are ready to split from your current partner. In that case, you can benefit from speaking with an attorney familiar with the laws surrounding common-law marriages. Contact us today to learn about our free consultation. The caring team at Eric M. Willie P.C. Austin Divorce Lawyer understands that this can be a painful and emotional process. We’re here to help you navigate your way through the common law marriage divorce proceedings and ensure that you’re protected.

To set up a free consultation to discuss your estate planning options, contact us online or call us at (512)478-0834.


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