Over the years I have had my clients ask me about common law marriage in Galveston County, Texas. In my experience, many people do not understand the necessary requirements of a common law marriage. This blog is intended to provide an outline for determining if you and your partner have created a common law marriage.
What is a Common Law Marriage?
A valid common law marriage in Texas occurs when a man and woman become husband and wife without getting a marriage license and having a matrimonial ceremony. Once established, this type of marriage has the same legal effect as a ceremonial marriage.
The following are the three legal requirements to form a Texas common law marriage:
- You must have “agreed to be married.”
- You must have “held yourselves out” as husband and wife. You must have represented to others that you were married to each other. As an example of this, you may have introduced you partner socially as “my husband,” or you may have filed a joint income tax return.
- You must have lived together in this state as husband and wife.
You will need to prove all of the elements of the common law marriage doctrine as outlined above in this article. You must show evidence on each point.
Your own testimony can be evidence of the existence of a common-law marriage; for example, you can testify that your partner introduced you in social situations as his wife, or that you introduced him as your husband. Other people can also testify to the same effect.
In addition, you can ask the court to consider documents which reflect that you and your partner held yourselves out to the world as being married. Typical documents presented in these types of cases include leases signed as husband and wife, tax returns filed jointly as a married couple, and insurance policies listing one person as the other person’s spouse.