Legal Effects of a Common Law-Marriage

If the Court makes a finding that a common-law marriage exists between you and another person, the common-law marriage has the same legal consequences as a ceremonial marriage. This means that you would have to file for divorce if and when the relationship ends just as you would if you had a ceremonial marriage. Once a common-law marriage is in existence the husband and wife cannot “undo it” by agreeing that they are no longer married. Additionally, if a common-law marriage exists, then all property and debts accumulated during the duration of the common-law marriage that are community property are subject to division by the Court at the time of the divorce.

A common-law marriage between a man and a woman begins when all three of the following elements are satisfied at the same time in Texas:

1) The parties agree to be married;

2) The parties live together as husband and wife, and

3) The parties represent to others in Texas that they are husband and wife, which is often referred to as “holding out” to others that you are husband and wife.

A common-law marriage ends when it is dissolved by death, divorce, or annulment.

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