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What is a common law marriage in Texas?

The state of Texas recognizes common law marriage, which is also referred to as "informal marriage." Unlike a traditional marriage, a common law marriage comes about naturally without formalities or special ceremonies, but certain legal requirements exist pertaining to the relationship. If these legal requirements can be proved, your common law marriage will not have a lesser status than a legally formalized marriage.

What are the requirements to establish a common law marriage?

Here is what couples have to prove to show that they have a common law marriage:

  • You and your partner were not already formally or informally married to another person when your alleged common law marriage was established.
  • You and your partner were both 18 years of age or older when you created the informal marriage.
  • Both you and your partner agreed that you were married.
  • You have lived as a married couple in Texas.
  • You displayed to others that you were a married couple.

Why would you want to establish a common law marriage?

There are two important reasons for couples to prove that a common law marriage exists: the couple is divorcing or one member of the couple dies and the other needs to define inheritance rights.

Divorce: Divorces happen in the same way as they do in traditional marriages. The spouses may receive special financial benefits and child custody rights when they end their common law marriage.

Inheritance: If one spouse dies, the other spouse in a common law marriage may be entitled to special inheritance rights.

If your common law spouse has died or if you're going through a breakup with your common law spouse, learn more about your legal rights and options.

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