Texas law includes provisions for common law or “informal marriages” that have not been formally certified by the state. These informal marriages, once proven, carry the same rights and responsibilities of formal marriage.
ELEMENTS OF A TEXAS COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
An informal marriage in Texas is a legal marriage but one that exists without the formalities or ceremony of a typical formal marriage. In order to prove that a common-law marriage exists, the parties must first demonstrate that they are legally eligible for marriage in the state of Texas. Legal eligibility requires the following:
- Neither party is already married, either formally or informally, to anyone else at the time the marriage was created.
- Both parties are at least 18 years old.
- Neither party can have had a divorce in the previous 30 days.
- The parties cannot be too closely related to one another.
If the parties are legally eligible for marriage, then they must meet three additional requirements to qualify as legally married.
- Both parties must mutually agree that they are married. You cannot marry someone else without their consent.
- Both parties must tell other people that they are married. You can demonstrate this by, for example, introducing the other party as your spouse, co-signing leases as a married couple, or filing joint tax returns or credit card applications as spouses.
- The parties must live together in Texas as husband and wife. If, for example, the parties acted as husband and wife in another state but did not present themselves as married to people in Texas, then the parties are not eligible for informal marriage in Texas.