The matter of common-law marriage is more complicated than many people believe. Simply living with one another for a considerable amount of time doesn’t make the cut in the State of Texas. However, certain couples who have not had an official marriage ceremony can still be considered common law married in Texas under the right circumstances. This is critical if the couple breaks up, as divorce laws might apply.
If you’re facing a divorce in a common-law marriage, the matter can be even more complicated than divorce already is, which makes having an experienced Fort Worth common-law marriage lawyer in your corner well-advised.
Common law marriages refer to legal marriages that occur without a marriage ceremony and without the legal formalities that are generally associated with marriage. While common law marriages only occur when highly specific legal requirements are met – when they are established – they are just as legally binding as any other marriage. In order for the term common law marriage to apply, all the following must be true:
There is no time requirement that automatically translates to a common law marriage, and there is no minimum amount of time the couple must have lived together as a married couple. Some couples agree to have their common law marriages recognized by the state of Texas by filing a Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage with the court.
If your relationship qualifies as a common law marriage, you’ll need to pursue a divorce just like any other married couple would if you choose to break up. There isn’t an expedited process or a common law divorce. As such, you and your common-law spouse will need to address each of the following terms of the divorce that applies:
Failure to obtain a divorce if you and your common-law spouse decide to go your separate ways can have all the following legal implications:
Common law marriages, in other words, are not a lighter form of marriage.
The crux of common-law marriages is that you and your common-law spouse agreed to be married and that you held yourself out to others as such. This can be a challenging hurdle – especially if your common-law spouse is now contending that they didn’t agree to be married. Rather than focus on one specific factor, the court will take the totality of primary matters like the following into careful consideration when determining whether or not your relationship is, in fact, a common law marriage:
Any one of these on its own is unlikely to establish a common law marriage, but when several apply, it tends to paint a clearer picture.
Proving that your relationship was a common law marriage can be exceptionally complicated, and this is before you get down to the difficult work of hammering out your divorce terms. If you and your common-law spouse are in agreement regarding the status of your relationship and you are able to negotiate terms between yourselves – with the skilled legal guidance of your respective common-law marriage attorneys – you will not need the court’s direct involvement in resolving your divorce terms.
If your spouse, however, disagrees with your assessment of your relationship, you will need the court’s intervention, which makes the divorce process that much more challenging and makes having a seasoned common-law marriage attorney on your side that much more important.
The State of Texas does not recognize legal separations for people who are married or for people who are in common-law marriages. This means that if you and your common-law spouse simply decide to call things off and go your own separate ways, it will have no bearing on your legal status as common-law spouses.
Ultimately, you’ll remain in your common law marriage until you divorce, and the division of your marital assets and even the matter of alimony can be significantly affected – especially if either of you went on to accrue significant debt or amass considerably more wealth than the other.
Divorce involving a common-law marriage can be even more complex. Our top-rated common law marriage attorneys at MBH Fort Worth | Family Law, however, have a wealth of impressive experience successfully guiding challenging cases like yours toward favorable outcomes, and we are committed to also helping you. Your case and your future are important, so please do not delay reaching out and contact us for more information about what we can do for you today.