• Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Best Lawyers Logo
  • Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2018
  • Avvo Client's Choice Award 2017
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo

Common Law Marriage in Texas

Are Common Law Marriages Legal?

“Am I married?” Seems like a simple question, right? But, sometimes it isn’t, and the answer to that question can be surprising.

Common law marriage does exists in Texas, although, it is legally called “informal marriage.” So, how do you know if you have a common law marriage? Texas Family Code 2.401 states that two parties are informally married if they agree to be married, live together as spouses in Texas, and “hold out” to others that they are married.

The main issue that most people face is the "holding out" question, which is to say that they told or implied to third parties (in Texas) that they were married. There are many ways to represent to others that you are married, such as through filing joint tax returns, sharing health insurance, or simply by telling others that you are married.

Learn more about common law marriages in Texas, as well as your rights if you are in an informal marriage. Contact Walters Gilbreath, PLLC online or by phone at (844) 451-1220 today to speak with a matrimonial attorney.

Can Common Law Marriages Be Challenged?

In short, yes. Typically, common law marriages are challenged when one party files for divorce without ever having been formally married.

Many people wish to challenge a common law marriage because, in the event of a divorce, their property rights may be affected. Furthermore, a person seeking divorce in a common law marriage may be able to pursue spousal support/maintenance. If the couple shares any children, a divorce or separation can become even more complicated.

According to Texas Family Law code, it may be possible to challenge a common law marriage if:

  • The couple did not intend to get married
  • The couple did not live together in Texas
  • The couple did not represent themselves to others as being married
  • A proceeding to prove the common law marriage does not occur within two years of the date of separation or the date on which the parties stopped living together
  • One or both parties is under the age of 18
  • One or both parties was currently married to third party at the time they attempted to enter an informal marriage

For example, if a man is legally married to a woman and attempts to enter an informal marriage with another woman, he will not be able to do so. If a woman believes herself married to a man, but the two file separate tax returns, the man may challenge the common law marriage.

What Is a Declaration of Informal Marriage?

A declaration of informal marriage is a legal document that proves the couple intends to marry. The form is filed with the county clerk, but it is not a marriage license. It can, however, be very useful if the couple should ever divorce without a marriage license, as the declaration of informal marriage can serve as evidence that the common law marriage existed.

Putative/Invalid Marriages

In addition to common law marriages, Texas recognizes putative marriages. Putative marriages are those that would be otherwise valid but are invalid due to some legal obstacle. For example, if two individuals get married, but one woman is technically still legally married to her previous wife on the date of marriage, the new marriage is considered invalid until her divorce becomes final. Though this is relatively rare, putative marriages do sometimes occur.

It is important to note that you cannot receive spousal maintenance or related Texas Family Code rights if you never had a legal marriage of some kind, formal or informal. Simply living with someone for a long time does not guarantee the same rights as a formal marriage or common law marriage.

Speak with a Member of Our Legal Team Today

If you are still not sure if you are in a common law marriage, or you wish to challenge a common law marriage, our family law firm can help. We also assist individuals in common law marriages who wish to get divorced or who have been served divorce papers. Regardless of your particular situation, we are here to answer your questions and help you clearly understand your legal rights.

Our Texas matrimonial lawyers have extensive experience navigating all types of complex family law issues, including informal and invalid marriages. We offer our clients a personalized approach, providing the compassionate and attentive service they need.

Reach out to our team today. Call (844) 451-1220 to request your initial case evaluation.

  • Brain Walters and Jake Gilbreath both worked on my divorce case which resulted in a very favorable outcome. I recommend Brian and Jake since they are both very experienced and knowledgeable. Questions asked were almost always answered the same day. I highly recommend this law firm.

    - Michael V.

  • Brian and Jake listened carefully to my situation. They prepared all appropriate court documents and filed them the next day. Their staff was pleasant to deal with and very organized. Although I was under a great deal of stress from my spouse's emotional abuse, their prompt and appropriate legal ...

    - Cindy

  • Great law firm. Very professional. They fought for me and my son. I am pleased with my case. I will highly recommend this law firm. Thank you.

    - Ogechi

  • Mr. Walters has been a lifesaver for me. My ex-wife kidnapped my children and the police would not help me recover them using my custody order. I contacted Brian and we were in front of a judge the next day and my children were returned within hours after that. The proceeding family court case that ...

    - William I.

  • Jim is an exceptional attorney with his client's upmost interest at heart. From the beginning, through the time he brought my case to closure, Jim displayed such care and attention to detail. He will shephard you through a very difficult and emotional process with nothing but grace, compassion and ...

    - Shannon

  • Jake Gilbreath has been extremely helpful and impactful in my recent divorce proceedings. Initially my divorce was amicable, but degraded quickly with legal wrangling on the part of my wife's counsel. Immediately after Jake was engaged, things snapped back to a realistic agenda and a prompt ...

    - David P.

Our Blog

View All Posts

The Walters Gilbreath, PLLC Difference

We are committed to our clients' needs. The words Better Approach - Better Results aren't just a tagline, we live by them. Get Started Today