Fort Worth Common Law Marriage Lawyer

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.

Am I in a Common Law Marriage?

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:

 

  • Both parties are at least 18 years old.
  • The couple agreed between themselves to be married.
  • The couple lived together in the State of Texas as a married couple.
  • The couple represented themselves to others as a married couple.

 

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.

Common Law Marriage and Divorce

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:

 

  • The division of your marital property
  • Your child custody arrangements
  • Child support
  • Alimony

 

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:

 

  • You can be held legally accountable for one another, such as in relation to making critical health determinations.
  • Any assets either of you accumulates after you break up will be considered marital property that the other can seek their just and right division of.
  • Neither of you can remarry until your common law marriage is legally dissolved.

 

Common law marriages, in other words, are not a lighter form of marriage.

Proving that You and Your Common Law Spouse Agreed to Be Married

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:

 

  • You and your common-law spouse lived together.
  • You told other people that you were married, introduced one another as your spouse, or did both.
  • One of you used the other’s last name.
  • You filed your tax returns jointly, or you filed as a married person filing singly
  • You entered into leases or other contractual arrangements as spouses
  • You made major purchases together
  • One of you was on the other’s health insurance policy
  • You made each other beneficiaries on your life insurance policies
  • You pursued joint loans
  • You applied for public benefits and listed one another as spouses
  • You have children together

 

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.

Your Divorce Can Be Even More Complicated

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.

Texas Does Not Recognize Legal Separations

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.

Reach Out for the Help You Need from a Top-rated Common Law Marriage Attorney Near You

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.

Contact Us Today!

Put Our Team On Your Side

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817-900-8330

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Constance Mims who has over 15 years of experience practicing exclusively family law. Mrs. Mims is Board Certified in Family Law, by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization..

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