Some couples consider themselves to be “life partners” without the need for a formal marriage ceremony. These relationships can be long-lasting and the couples can accumulate significant property together during the course of their relationship. A common question when these relationships end is what happens with your property?
A marriage license or formal ceremony is not required to create community property that a court can divide in a divorce. Texas is a state that recognizes common law (informal) marriages. However, there are certain requirements that you must meet to prove that a common-law marriage exists. The partner seeking to prove a common law marriage must show that:
There is no set time period for how long a couple has to be together to consider themselves common law married. It could be a very short period of only a matter of weeks or it could be an extended period lasting decades. So long as the three requirements are met then a common-law marriage can be established. However, if the couple separates and a divorce case is not filed within two years of living apart then there is a presumption that the informal marriage is void.
Sometimes it can be tricky to prove a common law marriage after the relationship with your partner has ended. It is not uncommon for one of the spouses (usually the one with more property in their name) to dispute that a marriage relationship ever existed. It can take a skilled Southlake common law marriage attorney to prove an informal marriage to the court when there is a lack of documentation evidencing this relationship.
Proving an informal marriage exists is just the beginning though. In divorces involving common law marriage, establishing when the marriage actually started is equally (if not more) important. This is because Texas is a community property state. With community property, it does not matter whether an asset is solely in your name or your partner’s name. If there is a marriage Texas courts will presume that all property accumulated during the marriage is part of the community estate and must be divided upon finalizing a divorce.
In determining what property was accumulated during the course of an informal marriage One partner may believe the marriage began the day you started living together, while the other may refer to a specific event as the official date of marriage. This data is critical in determining what property was accumulated during the marriage and what was owned prior to the marriage to be considered separate property.
If a home was purchased but only titled in one partner’s name, whether this took place before or after the date of marriage is an important fact. Same with starting a business, accumulating retirement, receiving stock options, or any other asset. If the asset is solely in one partner’s name it can still be divided by the court if it was acquired after the marriage date. When so much is at risk, it is important to have an experienced attorney to effectively present your case and protect your property interests.
If your relationship is ending (or has already come to an end) and you believe you may be common law married and entitled to a share of the property, or if you believe your partner may claim common law marriage to get a share of your property, you will want to meet with an experienced common law marriage attorney new you, who understands the intricacies of common law marriages in Texas.
The Southlake common law marriage attorneys at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Family Law can help you understand your rights and how to protect your assets and future. Call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our expert attorneys.