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How to Prove an Informal Marriage in a Texas Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Travis County Common-Law Marriage Divorce LawyerAlthough not every state recognizes common-law marriages, the state of Texas does when the relationship has met certain criteria. Meeting the criteria of a common-law marriage, referred to as an informal marriage, is critical in the event the couple split up and seeks the same legal rights as a couple who signed a declaration of marriage.

Couples can enter into an informal marriage by signing a declaration of informal marriage with their county clerk’s office. This is all the proof that is needed for divorce, inheritance, or any other legal proceeding.

However, if the couple does not sign an agreement, proving they were in an informal marriage may be somewhat more difficult. The following are factors required by the state in order to recognize a legal informal marriage.

Informal Marriage Requirements

In order for the state to recognize an informal marriage, both spouses must be 18 years of age or older when the marriage was formed. Neither spouse can be married – either a formal marriage or an informal one – to anyone else. And both parties must agree that they are entering into an informal marriage.

The couple must also live together as spouses. They cannot live in separate residences. There must be legal proof of their cohabitation, such as both names on a mortgage or lease, credit cards, vehicle loans, etc. There must be evidence that the couple lived together as spouses and not roommates.

This is important because if one party tries to deny that an informal marriage existed and the two were just roommates as a defense to divorce, the other spouse will need to be able to prove a marital relationship did exist.

Strong evidence of an informal marriage should also be present in how the couple presented themselves to society. Did the couple list the other as beneficiaries on life insurance policies and financial accounts? Did they file taxes together? Did they represent themselves as a married couple to family, friends, and the public? These are all strong factors in showing the court that the couple had entered into an informal marriage and the spouses are entitled to the same marital rights – community property, spousal support, etc. – as a couple who are formally married.

Contact a Texas Divorce Attorney for Legal Assitance

If you have been in an informal marriage that is now ending, contact an Austin, TX complex divorce attorney to help ensure your rights to assets and property are protected. Call Powers and Kerr, PLLC at 512-610-6199 to schedule a confidential consultation.




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