Are You Truly Common-Law Married?

Choices and Consequences: Five Rules for Safe Internet UseAre You Truly Common-Law Married? Despite what you may think you know about common-law marriage, it is not as informal as it sounds. The state of Texas is as specific as it can be with its laws regarding informal marriage for the simple reason that – God love em – there are people who believe they are automatically married after a certain period of time.

Even if the relationship is solid, and you make it known to others, that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

As we discussed in an earlier blog, an informal marriage involves two consenting adults who are living together and are willing to make it known to others that they are husband and wife – even though neither has formally obtained a marriage license and held a ceremony.

Notice the key words “living together.”

Here are two textbook examples of what it means to live together in the eyes of the state:

  1. Couple lived together for two and a half months in a house they bought together.
  2. Man bought a condominium for a woman and their child. The couple was together as often as the man’s business permitted him to be there and that he kept his personal belongings at the same condo.

Here are examples of couples who are not considered to be living together in the eyes of the state:

  1. Couple had sex only at their parents’ houses and never spent an entire night together.
  2. Couple occasionally lived in same house, but occupied separate rooms and had separate beds.

To be married by way of common law, you must prove:

  1. Both parties have agreed to be married. The agreement can be a verbal or written agreement.
  2. Both parties live together as husband and wife – there is no rule for how long they must live together.
  3. Represent, or make it known, to others that you are husband and wife – an informal marriage cannot be a secret.

To enter into an informal marriage, both parties must at least be 18 years of age, not related to one another, and not currently married to someone else. Minors cannot enter into a common-law marriage.

Just like a ceremonial marriage, informal marriages last until it is dissolved by death, divorce or annulment.