Most married couples go through the formalities associated with marriage. They get a marriage license, they have a ceremony, and the person who officiates the ceremony signs the license, which then makes the marriage official. But other people choose not to go through that process, and it’s not necessary to go through that process to be considered married in Texas. Texas also recognizes informal marriages which are more commonly known as common law marriages. As a guy who has been dating a woman for a year and a half, I would certainly like to go the common law route and avoid the the cost associated with all the formalities. But I doubt I’ll be so lucky.
The problem with common law marriages is that it is often difficult to prove their existence. With formal marriages there is paper trail, and there are witnesses from the ceremony. There’s never a doubt about whether a marriage occurred in those instances. But for those who are informally married, it can be difficult to prove there was actually a marriage. Why does it matter that you be able to prove a common law marriage? Unless you can do so, you can’t get a divorce. This can be a problem for people who are in a relationship that they consider to be a marriage because in the event that the relationship ends, the parties are not entitled to half of the marital estate unless they can actually prove that there was a marital estate. This can result in parties losing out on assets that they would be entitled to in a divorce action such as home equity, retirement accounts and more.
Texas law has three requirements for proving a common law marriage.
- The man and woman agreed to be married.
- The man and woman lived together in Texas as husband and wife.
- The couple represented to others that they were married.
It can be difficult to prove that the parties agreed to be married. Very often it could be nothing more than one party’s word against the other’s. And a showing that the parties lived together is not in and of itself evidence of an agreement to be married because non-married couples living together is far more common than it used to be. In fact, I live with the aforementioned girlfriend to whom I am not married. However, the second requirement of cohabitation is not difficult to prove. But the third requirement, the requirement that the couple represented to others that they were married, can be the biggest hurdle when trying to prove a common law marriage. To establish that a couple represented to others that they were married, the couple must have a reputation in the community for being married. It’s not enough for one party to the relationship to tell a few people that they are married. It must be widely known and accepted in the community. One of the best ways to establish that a couple represented that they were married is the signing of documents in the capacity of husband and wife. Signing things like insurance contracts, deeds, credit applications or income tax returns as husband and wife can satisfy this requirement.
But the long and short of it is that if you were married without all of the formalities, you need to contact a Kaufman County divorce lawyer to help you establish that you were married so you can get a divorce and get the marital property to which you are entitled. Our main office is located in Forney, but we also have offices in Rockwall and Kaufman, so please contact our office to set up a time to meet with us at a location convenient to you. One of our Kaufman County divorce lawyers will be happy to sit down with you during a initial consultation to discuss your case and the options available to you.
Call Forney, Texas Family Lawyer Brett Talley at (972)564-4644 to schedule a consultation about your Kaufman County Divorce.