Common Law Marriage in Texas

Common law marriage in Texas is a legally-binding relationship that is recognized by the state and carries many of the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as a traditional marriage. Though common law marriage is not for everyone, it can be an attractive option for couples who don’t want to go through the formalities of a legal ceremony or do not wish to pay for a marriage license.

Common law marriage in Texas is an area of family law with a long and complex history. It is important to understand the legal implications of common law marriages before entering into one in the state of Texas. This article will provide an overview of the historical background, current laws and regulations, and potential challenges associated with common law marriage in Texas. We will also explore some of the legal rights associated with having a common law marriage in Texas.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage, also known as an informal or marriage by habit and repute, is a type of union recognized in certain states including Texas.  This type of union occurs when two people have agreed to be married, have lived together for a period of time and present themselves to the public as husband and wife.

Under common law, couples are considered legally married if they meet certain criteria: The couple must have lived together for an extended period of time; they must have held themselves out as married by using the same last name, filing joint tax returns, or referring to each other as husband and wife; and finally, both parties must have intended to be married. If these criteria are met, then a common law marriage can exist even without an actual marriage certificate or legal document.

In most cases, common law marriages provide many of the same rights that traditional marriages do including property division upon divorce and spousal support.

Historical Context

Common law marriage is an age-old custom that has been practiced for centuries in many countries, including the United States. Common law marriages are a type of marital relationship in which couples are considered legally married even though they did not receive a marriage license or participate in a ceremony.

Throughout history, common law marriage was widely accepted due to its flexibility and availability for couples who were unable to obtain a legal marriage certificate. This type of union provided them with the same legal rights and responsibilities as traditional marriages. In addition, common law marriages were also seen as more socially acceptable than other forms of cohabitation. However, over time attitudes towards common law marriage began to change and it became less widely accepted in some areas of the United States. Today, while some states still recognize common law marriage, most require couples to obtain a license before they will be considered legally married.

Requirements for Legality

In Texas, the couple must meet certain criteria before they can be considered married under common law. They must agree that they are married, live together in the state of Texas, and represent themselves to others as being married. Additionally, both parties must be at least 18 years old and legally competent to enter into a marriage contract. It is important to note that common law marriages created in other states will not be recognized in Texas unless the couple was legally married there first.

Benefits of Common Law Marriage

Couples who choose this type of union are not legally married, but they can enjoy some of the same benefits and protections as those who have gone through a traditional wedding ceremony. This arrangement has its advantages for couples who don’t want to go through the expense and paperwork associated with a legal marriage.

One advantage to common law marriages is that partners may share certain rights that married couples have when it comes to inheritance, medical decisions, and other important matters. In some states, these partnerships also receive a similar level of consideration as those who are legally wed when it comes to filing taxes or making claims on health insurance and other benefits. Furthermore, common law marriages provide financial protection for both parties if one partner passes away.

Disadvantages of Common Law Marriage

Common Law Marriage is one way for couples to be legally recognized in their relationship without having to go through the formal process of traditional marriage. While this may sound appealing, there are also some disadvantages that come with it. In Texas, as with many other states, common law marriage is not always clear-cut and can lead to confusion.

The most important disadvantage of common law marriage in Texas is that it can be difficult for partners to prove that their relationship is valid and legal. The state does not issue any type of certificate or license for this kind of union, so if either partner wants to prove the validity of their relationship they will have to put forward evidence such as shared bank accounts and property titles held jointly. Without these kinds of documents, it would be nearly impossible to prove the existence of a common law marriage if it were ever challenged in court.

Legal Considerations for Texas Couples

Texas couples should be aware of the legal implications that come with their relationship status, particularly when it comes to common law marriage. This type of union is not recognized in every state, and Texas is one of the few states that do recognize it. To be considered married under Texas law, there are three main requirements: both parties must agree to be married; they must live together as a married couple; and they must represent themselves to other people as a married couple.

The rights and responsibilities associated with common law marriage are similar to those for any legally-recognized marriage. This includes the right to file joint tax returns, receive an inheritance from your partner’s estate upon death or dissolution of the union, and access spousal benefits such as health insurance or pension plans. Additionally, you may have the option to seek alimony if the union is dissolved.


Common law marriage in Texas is an interesting topic to explore. It may be a surprise to some that it exists and can be just as legally binding if the right steps are taken. Knowing your rights and understanding the requirements of common law marriage is essential so that you are adequately protected by the law when it comes to property division, alimony, or other matters. Consulting with an experienced family lawyer can help answer any questions or concerns you have about common law marriage in Texas.

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