Texas is one of the few states that continue to recognize common law marriages (also known as informal marriages), which are legal unions that occur without licensure or ceremony but that, once established, are just as legally binding as Marriage. Because common-law marriages are recognized in Texas, couples who are so bound and who choose to separate generally must go through the same divorce proceedings as married couples.
A Texas Common-Law Marriage
A common-law marriage in Texas requires certain indicators that the two partners were living as a married couple (excluding those couples where a partner was underage or already married). Generally, these indicators are:
- Both partners signed a Declaration of Informal Marriage with the county clerk.
- Both partners presented themselves as a married couple within the community.
- One of the partners took the other’s last name.
- The couple filed joint tax returns as spouses (or one partner filed as “married filing single”).
- The couple signed legal documents or leases as a married couple.
- The couple made major purchases jointly.
- One or both partners were included in the other’s health insurance.
- One or both partners are the beneficiaries of the other’s life insurance policy.
- The couple applied for loans jointly.
- One of the partners applied for public aid and listed the other as a spouse.
- The couple has children together.
While there no silver bullet signifies a common-law marriage in Texas, the court will look at the entirety of the relationship to determine whether a common-law marriage exists.
A Texas Common-Law Divorce
The fewer ways that you were bound in a Texas common-law marriage, the less difficult obtaining a common-law divorce will likely be. For example, if you have children together, own property together, and share debt, you are likely to encounter a more difficult or complex divorce. Texas offers couples involved in common-law marriages the option of obtaining a garden variety divorce to address their legal issues, but the court must first determine that your relationship was, indeed, a common-law marriage.
Not all common-law divorces are created equal. If you and your partner remain apart for two years but never take legal action aimed at ending your union, the court will interpret this as indicating that no marriage existed. This interpretation, however, can be rebutted by evidence. Furthermore, if you and your partner have children together but share no property or debt, you can file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), which will allow you and the other parent to legally resolve your issues involving custody, parenting time, and child support.
Consult with a Sugar Land, Texas, Divorce Attorney
If you are considering a common-law divorce in Texas, the Vendt Law Firm, P.L.L.C., is here to help you navigate this often-complicated terrain. Attorney Frank J. Vendt is a skilled Texas divorce lawyer who focuses on solution-based legal guidance. Schedule a consultation with Mr. Vendt today by calling our office at (832) 276-9474 or by contacting us online.
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