What Is Common Law Marriage?
Common Law marriage is also referred to as an informal marriage. It is legal in Texas but not in California. California, does however, recognize common law marriages that were created in states that recognizes them. This is also true across all states. A marriage legally recognized in one state will be recognized in other states. An informal marriage in Texas is formed if the following requirements are met:
1. The parties agreed to be married.
The evidence must show there was an agreement for the spouses to be married. This does not have to be a written contract. It can be deduced from evidence such as the parties living together, tax returns, and other overt acts married couples partake in. A marriage proposal and the gift of an engagement ring is not enough to prove that the parties agreed to be married.
2. The parties live together in Texas as a married couple.
The parties must live together. This is also referred to as cohabitation. It is not enough that the couple has sexual relations under the same roof. The couple must provide evidence such as the couple resided in the home together for an extended amount of time, both parties helped maintained the home, and personal belongings were kept in the home.
3. The parties must represent to other that they are married.
This is referred to as “holding out.” The parties should not be doing anything to try to keep their marriage a secret. Applications where the parties indicated they were married, signing a card to others as a married couple, and their reputation in the community as a married couple are some of the ways in which this factor can be proven. Telling some friends the parties are married is not enough.
4. Both parties must be adults.
Unlike legalized marriages, both parties must be at least 18 years of age.
Common law marriages receive the same status as ceremonial marriages. If common law marriage is proven, the parties are given all of the same rights as if they had a ceremonial marriage. A ceremonial marriage is when the parties obtained a marriage license and conducted a marriage ceremony. Thus, in the event of a divorce, the division of assets and child custody will follow the same laws.
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