Common Law Marriage Texas | What it is and its Sure Benefits

Common Law Marriage Texas
Common Law Marriage Texas

Common Law Marriage Texas: Imagine living with your partner for several years and then discovering that your relationship is legally considered a marriage.

Sounds surprising, right? Well, welcome to the world of common law marriages in Texas! While traditional weddings involve vows and exchanging rings, common law marriages take a different path altogether – one that doesn’t require an official ceremony or certificate.

Common law marriage is an intriguing concept that challenges conventional notions of matrimony and offers couples an alternative way to establish their union under the eyes of the law.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about common law marriage in Texas – from its history to its requirements and implications – so stay tuned!

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage, or informal marriage, refers to a legal marriage between two individuals who have not obtained a marriage license or participated in a formal ceremony.

In Texas, as in several other states, common-law marriages are recognized under specific conditions.

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The History of Common Law Marriage

To understand Texas common law marriage, it’s essential to delve into its historical context. This practice dates back to the frontier days when formal marriage ceremonies were not always feasible due to remote locations. Common law marriages provide a legal framework for couples in such situations.

What is Common Law Marriage Texas?

Common law marriage Texas, sometimes called “informal marriage,” permits partners to be recognized as married without getting a formal marriage license or planning a formal wedding.

What is Required for Common Law Marriage in Texas?

For Texas common law marriage, a few requirements need to be fulfilled:

  • Marriage agreement: To be married, there must be a current mutual agreement between the two parties. To live together as a married couple and become spouses, they must consent to this.
  • Cohabitation: In Texas, a couple must reside together as spouses. It takes more than just dating or living together to create a common law marriage.
  • Presenting a marital image to others: The pair has to exhibit a married image to others. This can involve introducing one another as husband and wife, entering the same last name, and filing joint taxes.

It is significant to remember that Texas common law marriage can be established for whatever length of time that cohabitation occurs. The couple’s intention to get married and their actions to support this intention are crucial.

In Texas, common law weddings are legally enforceable, and the couple has the same rights and obligations under the law as those who have obtained official marriage licenses.

This covers matters pertaining to inheritance, property partition, and spousal support. However, a legal divorce is usually needed to dissolve a common law marriage.

To properly comprehend and manage the complexities of a common law marriage in Texas, it is imperative to speak with an experienced attorney. The rules and regulations of this type of marriage can be complicated, and they may alter over time due to new laws or advancements in the law.

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Does Texas Recognize Common Law Marriage

Texas is one of the few states in the U.S. that recognizes common-law marriages. To be considered legally married under common law marriage Texas, three key criteria must be met:

  • Agreement: Both parties must agree to be married.
  • Cohabitation: The couple must live together in the state.
  • Representation: The couple must present themselves as married to others.

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Benefits of Common Law Marriage in Texas

Common Law Marriage in Texas

It’s important to note that the benefits may vary depending on the specific laws of the state or country where the common law marriage is recognized. Below are some potential benefits of Texas common law marriage:

  1. Legal Recognition: Common law marriage grants legal recognition to a couple, which can be important in various situations, such as inheritance, property ownership, and decision-making.
  2. Property Rights: In a common law marriage, both spouses may have legal rights to property acquired during the marriage, and they may be entitled to an equitable distribution of assets if the relationship ends, similar to couples in formal marriages.
  3. Inheritance: Common law spouses may have inheritance rights if one of them passes away without a will. They could be entitled to a share of the deceased spouse’s estate, depending on state laws.
  4. Medical Decisions: Common law spouses are often allowed to make medical decisions for each other if one becomes incapacitated, similar to the rights granted to married couples. This can be crucial in times of illness or medical emergencies.
  5. Spousal Benefits: Some benefits available to married couples, such as health insurance, Social Security, and retirement benefits, may also be accessible to common-law spouses in jurisdictions where common law marriage is recognized.
  6. Tax Benefits: Common law spouses may be eligible for certain tax benefits and deductions that are available to married couples when filing joint tax returns.

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Common Law Marriage vs. Traditional Marriage

Understanding the differences between common law and traditional marriage is crucial:

  • Ceremony and License: Traditional marriages involve a formal ceremony and marriage license, while common law marriages do not.
  • Legal Recognition: Both types of marriages are legally recognized in Texas.
  • Divorce: Common law marriages require a legal divorce if they end, just like traditional marriages.

What Common Law Marriage in Texas is not

Even after 20 years of living together and having kids together, a couple in Texas is not automatically considered common law married.

This is particularly true in the event that there is proof that the pair never planned to get married or never pretended to be one to others. Common law marriage does not exist without consent to be married. There is no common law marriage if the pair has not presented themselves to the public as married.

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What happens if a couple in a Common Law Marriage decides to separate?

Without having a formal wedding ceremony or acquiring a marriage license, couples who live together and portray themselves as married are recognized by the law as having a common law marriage. But occasionally complicated things happen when these couples decide to call it quits.

In contrast to regular divorces, which follow set legal procedures for dividing assets and allocating custody of children, common law separations necessitate a thorough examination of state legislation.

The split of assets gained throughout the relationship is a major problem that comes up in common law separations. Common law spouses may be subject to community property rules in some states, like California.

This implies that any property acquired by either party during the partnership is regarded as jointly owned and needs to be split equally in the event of a divorce.

Asset allocation is more difficult in places where there is no community property presumption, such as Texas, for common law partnerships.

In common law separations, child custody can also be a complex issue. Since not all states formally recognize common law marriages, the couple may first need to establish parental rights or paternity before going through family court to decide on custody.

It is imperative that those in this circumstance seek the advice of a skilled family lawyer who can guide them through these intricate legal matters and safeguard their rights during the common law separation procedure.

What Rights do Texas Common Law Marriage Couples have?

Common law marriage couples, also known as informal marriage couples, typically have rights similar to those of couples in formal marriages, provided that their relationship meets the legal criteria for common law marriage in their jurisdiction.

The specific rights may vary depending on the laws of the state or country where the common law marriage is recognized. Here is a list of common rights that common law marriage couples may have:

  1. Property Rights: Common law spouses may have rights to property acquired during the course of the marriage. In the event of a breakup, assets may be subject to equitable distribution, similar to the division of property in a formal divorce.
  2. Inheritance Rights: In the absence of a will, common law spouses may have inheritance rights and could be entitled to a share of the deceased spouse’s estate.
  3. Medical Decision-Making: Common law spouses are often legally allowed to make medical decisions for each other if one becomes incapacitated, just like married couples.
  4. Spousal Privilege: Common law spouses may enjoy spousal privilege, which means they cannot be compelled to testify against each other in legal proceedings.
  5. Health Insurance: In some cases, common law spouses may be eligible for coverage under each other’s health insurance plans.
  6. Social Security Benefits: If they meet specific criteria, common law spouses may be eligible for Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work history, such as spousal benefits and survivor benefits.
  7. Retirement Benefits: Common law spouses may have rights to retirement benefits, including pension benefits and survivor benefits.
  8. Tax Benefits: Common law spouses may qualify for certain tax benefits, such as filing joint tax returns and claiming tax deductions available to married couples.
  9. Child Custody and Support: In cases of child custody or support disputes, common law parents have rights and responsibilities similar to those of married parents, with the best interests of the child being the primary consideration.
  10. Presumption of Legitimacy: Children born to common law married parents are usually presumed legitimate, granting them the same legal rights as children born to formally married couples.
  11. Immigration Benefits: Common law spouses may be eligible for immigration benefits, such as the ability to sponsor a spouse for a visa or green card.

Texas Common Law Marriage FAQs

Do common law spouses need a divorce to end their marriage?

Yes, just like traditional marriages, common law marriages require a legal divorce to end the marital relationship.

Can a common law marriage be formed if one of the partners is underage?

No, both parties must be of legal age to enter into a common law marriage.

Is a common law marriage recognized in other states?

It depends on the state’s laws. Some states recognize common law marriages from Texas, while others do not.

Can common law marriage be established with same-sex couples?

Yes, common law marriage is open to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.


Common law marriage in Texas is a unique legal concept that provides couples with a valid alternative to traditional marriage. Understanding the requirements and benefits of common law marriage is essential for those considering this option. We hope this article has shed light on the topic and provided valuable insights for our readers.


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