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Family Law Matters In A Texas Informal Marriage

You never had a wedding. You didn’t exchange rings or vows. But if you have lived as husband and wife and want to make it official, you can petition to have the state of Texas officially sanction your common law marriage.

Conversely, if you are splitting up, your informal marriage can be legally recognized by the Texas family courts for purposes of divorce (i.e., community property, child custody and financial support).

The experienced attorneys of Palmer Lehman Sandberg, PLLC can offer solid legal advice and advocacy for issues of common law marriage, whether advocating for or defending against such a claim. Our legal team includes three family law specialists certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Common Law Marriage In Texas

Common law marriage, also referred to as informal marriage or marriage without formalities, is recognized under the Texas Family Code. There is no specific time period or residency requirement, but you must meet all three of the following conditions:

  • You agree that you are married.
  • You have lived together in Texas as husband and wife.
  • You have represented yourselves to others as being married.

You may choose to register your common law union by filing a Declaration of Informal Marriage with the county clerk.

If the informal marriage is registered, either party can file for divorce. If the marriage was not registered, either party can petition the court to prove in a hearing that you satisfy all three of the statutory criteria. You must file the action within two years of separating, or it is rebuttably presumed that the parties did not enter into an agreement to be married.

If your informal marriage is recognized by a family court, you have all the same rights and obligations as couples who were “officially” married by a minister or justice of the peace. Both spouses may have a community property interest in division of assets, liability for certain debts, and spousal maintenance (alimony) that may apply.

Common law marriage has little bearing on child custody, except in questions of paternity. Custody, visitation and child support are determined in the same way whether or not the parents were married.

Learn More About Common Law Marriage And Your Rights

Call our firm at 214-242-6444 or contact us online to arrange a consultation with a lawyer. We will protect or defend your parental rights and financial interests while helping you seek solutions, in or out of court.

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