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Common Law Marriage and Divorce in Texas

Common Law Marriage and Divorce—Saying I Do without Really Saying “I Do”

Common Law Marriage and Divorce—Saying I Do without Really Saying “I Do”Currently, Texas is one of nine remaining states that sanction the concept of “common law marriage.” Essentially, common law marriage means that the state (and the law) recognize two people as being married, even though the parties may never have had a formal ceremony or exchanged vows. The practice is a carryover from old English tradition, where rural couples without access to a priest or official would live as a married couple and hold themselves out to the community as husband and wife.

Common Law Marriage

Texas validates common law marriages, provided you either:

  • File a certificate at your county courthouse swearing that you are married under the common law, or
  • Live with another person and hold yourself out to the community as husband and wife

For a common law marriage to be valid in Texas, both parties must be over the age of 18 at the time the marriage is declared, and both parties must voluntarily agree that they are married. The law requires that you live together in a residence that you both consider to be your home, though there is no specific amount of time required. You must hold yourself out to the community as married, typically referring to yourselves as Mr. and Mrs., or as husband and wife.

Divorce after Common Law Marriage

If your common law marriage was validated by filing a formal certificate in court, you must obtain a formal divorce to terminate all rights under the marriage. If, however, you never filed a certificate, you may not need to file for divorce, provided you can show that one of the four conditions to a common law marriage was not met. For example, if you allege that even though you held yourself out to the community as husband and wife, you never voluntarily agreed to consider yourself married, you may be able to simply terminate the relationship.

Contact Stewart Law, PLLC

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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