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.