Texas courts treat a common law marriage the same manner as traditional marriage, given that the spouses are able to prove the marriage is legitimate. Separating common law marriage partners must file for divorce, and follow the same rules for division of property, child custody, and child support as traditionally married couples.
What constitutes common law marriage in Texas?
It is a common misconception that people in a relationship automatically become “common law” spouses after living together for some set number of years. In reality, a couple must prove three elements to establish the existence of a common law marriage in Texas.
- Both parties agreed to enter into the common law marriage.
- The couple lives together within the state of Texas as husband and wife.
- The spouses represent themselves to others as a married couple.
How do I prove common law marriage in Texas?
Most couples have no reason to legally establish their common law marriage unless they are considering divorce. Doing so requires proving all three elements above. The burden of proof typically falls on the partner who wishes to file for divorce.
This is often more difficult than it seems. No matter how long you cohabitated or how many children you raised together, your marriage is not legal unless your former partner agrees that you were married.
Your official date of marriage usually coincides with the date when you and your spouse first met all three of the requirements.
How must we divide property during the dissolution of a common law marriage?
Once this process is completed, Texas law treats the dissolution of the common law marriage just like any other divorce. Under Texas law, any property acquired during the time the parties were married is community property. This includes income and property, as well as debts.
In Texas, spouses split all community property and/or debt equally during the divorce process. The court determines this split, as well as which assets fall into the community property category. The court will also determine child custody and conservatorship.
If you formalized your marriage by filing out a Declaration of Informal Marriage form, it is likely that the court will recognize any property acquired after this date as marital property.
How can The Texas Divorce Lawyer help?
Property division attorney Julie Johnson helps men and women in Texas dissolve both traditional and common law marriages, including ensuring they receive fair settlements on property division and child custody. She can also help you prove your common law marriage in order to begin your divorce process.
If you are considering divorce and live in the Dallas area, contact us today at 214-265-7630.