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Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Common Law Marriage and Divorce

Most states today do not permit common law marriages. There remain nine that do (including Texas) and five others that permit them if they occurred before a certain date. All states, however, recognize a common law marriage if it occurred validly in another state.

What is a common law marriage?

In order to common law married, a man and a woman have to meet three requirements in Texas:

  • They have to agree to be married
  • They have to hold themselves out as married (for example, introduce each other as husband and wife, file joint taxes, or the woman taking the man’s last name)
  • They have to live together in Texas husband and wife

The requirements are simple, but they have to be met in order to qualify a couple as common law married. In other words, just living together or having a child together do not change a relationship into a common law marriage. Children or the length of the relationship do not factor into the determination.

How common law couples divorce

Once common law married, the marriage is the same as if the couple had gone through a formal ceremony. Other states will recognize the marriage as a regular one. If the couple wishes to divorce, they have to go through the formal divorce proceedings, regardless of whether they married via a formal ceremony or the common law. There is no common law divorce.

Under Texas law, if you are involved in a common law marriage and you split up, you have up to two years after the separation to file a legal action to prove that you were common law married. This can be helpful if your partner denies the existence of the marriage, which prevents the division of property that occurs at all divorce proceedings.

Do you have any experience dealing with common law marriage?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce lawyers

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