April 23, 2024

Understanding Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is a legal concept that recognizes a couple as married, even if they have not gone through a formal ceremony or obtained a marriage license. In Texas, common law marriage is recognized and has specific requirements that must be met for it to be considered valid.

Criteria for Common Law Marriage in Texas

In order for a common law marriage to be considered valid in Texas, three criteria must be met:

1. Both parties must agree to be married. This can be shown through their actions and words, such as referring to each other as spouses or introducing themselves as married.

2. The couple must live together as husband and wife. This means sharing a residence, combining finances, and presenting themselves as a married couple to others.

3. The couple must have the intent to be married. This means that they must have the intention to enter into a marital relationship and not just be in a casual or temporary partnership.

Benefits of Common Law Marriage

There are several benefits to being in a common law marriage in Texas. First and foremost, it provides legal recognition and protection for the relationship. This means that the couple has the same rights and responsibilities as a formally married couple.

Common law marriage also has implications for property rights, inheritance, and taxes. If a common law marriage is recognized, the couple will be entitled to the same property rights as a formally married couple. In the event of a separation or death, they may also have the right to inherit from each other.

Proving Common Law Marriage in Texas

If a couple wants to prove their common law marriage in Texas, they may need to provide evidence to support their claim. This can include documents such as joint bank statements, lease agreements, or affidavits from friends and family who can testify to the couple’s relationship.

It’s important to note that simply living together for a certain period of time does not automatically establish a common law marriage. The couple must meet the specific criteria outlined by Texas law.

Ending a Common Law Marriage

Ending a common law marriage in Texas is similar to ending a formal marriage. The couple will need to go through a legal process, such as filing for divorce or annulment, in order to dissolve the marriage.

It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney if you are in a common law marriage and considering ending the relationship. They can provide guidance and advice specific to your situation.


Common law marriage is a unique legal concept that exists in Texas and a few other states. Understanding the criteria, benefits, and implications of common law marriage can help couples navigate their legal rights and responsibilities. If you believe you are in a common law marriage, it’s important to consult with an attorney to ensure that your relationship is legally recognized and protected.