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Common Law Marriage, Informal Marriages, and Domestic Partnership Agreements

What is Common-Law Marriage?

Texas law states that you and your partner can be considered married if you both agree to marriage, live in Texas, and present yourself to others as married. There are other types of evidence that may be presented in Court s proof of a common law marriage, such as business and tax filings, property filings, and by testimony of people who knew you as a couple.

In the end, even if you do not have a formal agreement, and are not legally married, if you have introduced your partner as a spouse, or signed a legal form listing your partner as your spouse, these will be considered as proof of a common law marriage.

Should the couple decide to separate, a common law marriage requires a divorce. This process will include all the proceedings that a divorce proceeding has for an actual marriage.

There are currently nine states in the United States that recognize common law marriage and Texas is one of them.

What is a Domestic Partnership Agreement?

Some Texas counties, including Travis County, accept the filing of Domestic Partnership Agreements and maintains a Registry of Domestic Partnerships. A Domestic Partnership Agreement is a document that describes the legal rights and responsibilities between two individuals of any gender in a long-term relationship. These documents are used for various purposes; For example, some employers use them to grant insurance and other benefits.

A domestic partnership agreement is a legal agreement but it is not a marriage, a common-law marriage, or a civil union. Texas does not currently recognize any of these unions.

What is an Informal Marriage?

In Texas, a man and a woman may sign a declaration of informal marriage. An informal marriage registration is different than a marriage license. It is most similar to a “registered” common-law marriage. In a common law marriage, it is assumed that a couple is married based on what they say, the circumstances, and how they present themselves. The informal marriage agreement is a way to have some formalization for a common-law marriage.In an informal marriage, a man and a woman agree on a date for the informal marriage, and the date can be a previous date. For example: a couple files for an informal marriage on August 10th, 2014, however, in their informal marriage certificate, they can affirm that the couple agreed to be married on February 14, 2002, a day of special significance for the couple, as long as the elements of a common-law marriage are met, which include: 1) affirming that the couple is married, 2) affirming that the couple lived as husband and wife during the time claimed in the informal marriage certificate, 3) affirming that the couple has represented themselves to other as married, and 4) affirming that since the date of informal marriage, neither party has been married to any other person.

If the couple separates, the normal divorce proceedings are followed.

If you are in a common-law marriage and are seeking divorce advise contact our Family Lawyer at Lyttle Law firm today. We will help you determine an equal and fair division of your current assets and guide you through custody issues if you have children from a common-law marriage.

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