A Brief Overview of Common Law Marriage and Divorce in Texas

Common law marriages have grown in popularity over the last few years. A common law marriage is an arrangement where you are considered married, but without a marriage certificate. It is referred to as an “informal marriage” in Texas. For this type of marriage to be recognized by the law, a few things have to take place. Here is a brief overview of common law marriage and divorce in Texas.

Are Common Law Marriages Recognized In Texas? 

Common law marriages are indeed recognized in Texas, where they are also known as informal marriages. This means that you can also file for a divorce if you are in an informal marriage. Any couple can enter into a common law marriage, whether same sex or heterosexual. However, you and your spouse need to meet certain requirements for your marriage to be legally established. These include: 

  • Making a formal agreement to be married
  • Holding yourselves out to the world that you are married 
  • Living together in Texas, as a couple

Holding yourselves out to the world means behaving like a married couple in such a manner that everyone believes that you are legally married. This involves doing such things as filing your taxes jointly, signing financial documents like leases as a married couple, and owning assets jointly. Simply living together or having children together does not make you a married couple. This is important because an informal marriage comes with many of the aspects that affect formal marriages, including property division in the event of a divorce.

Ending a Common Law Marriage

A couple in a common law marriage has the same rights as those in a ceremonial marriage. If you decide to go your separate ways, you will have to file for a formal divorce. The divorce process is the same as that of conventional marriages, but you first have to prove that you were in a common law marriage. There are seven grounds on which you can file for divorce in Texas: 

  1. Cruelty – either physical or mental
  2. Insupportable – the marriage cannot continue due to irreparable differences
  3. Adultery
  4. Abandonment – one of you left with the intention of abandonment and stayed away for more than a year
  5. Felony Conviction – either you or your spouse is convicted and imprisoned for more than a year in the course of your marriage
  6. Confinement in a mental institution – one of you is confined in a mental institution for more than three years without any signs of improvement

Alimony and child support

There are several factors that come into play when determining alimony in this type of divorce. For starters, the court must determine whether the spouse seeking alimony payment qualifies for it. This means that the individual must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • He or she is unable to work because they have a disabled child under their full-time care
  • He or she does not have an income to support themselves after being married for more than 10 years
  • He or she has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from working 
  • The other partner was found to be at fault for the divorce by committing domestic violence towards a member of the family within two years prior to the divorce 

If you and your spouse had children during your common law marriage, the court may also order for child support. Except for when the child is disabled, child support payments should typically last until: 

  • The child reaches 18
  • The child is released from custodial care (emancipated) 

The exact same rights of a ceremonial marriage apply to a common law marriage. If you need an experienced attorney for legal advice or to represent you in your divorce, you can count on Bobby Barina. Get in touch now.