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Does Texas Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Texas has recognized common law marriages since 1847. Texas refers to common law marriages as informal marriages. In order to be informally married the following requirements must be met:

1. The parties must agree to be married – this means that the parties must agree to be presently married; therefore, an agreement to marry in the future would not satisfy this requirement;

2. After agreeing to be married the parties must live together as husband and wife – the parties must live together in the state of Texas and carry on their everyday life as husband and wife; and

3. The parties must represent to others in Texas that they are married – representing only to family members and close friends that you are married, does not meet this requirement. You must represent to the general public, not just close family and friends, that you are married.

You could also meet all of these requirements by filing the Declaration of Intent to Marry with your local county clerk.

An informal marriage begins when you and your spouse meet all three of the aforementioned elements and ends upon death, annulment or divorce.

An informal marriage has the same rights, duties and obligations as a formal marriage.

If you and your spouse are informally married you will still need to do a formal divorce. Texas does not recognize informal/ common law divorce.

Proving an informal/ common law marriage is a very fact intensive process, and you will want to discuss your unique situation with one of our Austin Family Law Attorneys.

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