Common Law Marriage in Texas

Knowledgeable Houston Probate Law Attorneys Assisting Common Law Spouses in Probate Matters

At The Probate Law Group, our dedicated lawyers are here to support and advocate for those seeking rightful inheritance from their common law marriage in Texas. In Texas, a wedding ceremony is not a legal requirement due to the recognition of common law marriage in approximately twelve states. Proving the existence of a common law marriage in Texas can be crucial for partners to receive specific benefits during their loved one’s life or any inheritance upon their partner’s passing.

Also referred to as informal marriage, common law marriage doesn’t involve a formal ceremony or a marriage certificate. Contrary to a popular misconception, simply living together for a period of time doesn’t establish a common law marriage in Texas. To prove its existence, the following elements must be met:

  1. Neither partner is currently married to someone else.
  2. Both partners were at least 18 when the marriage began.
  3. Both partners agreed to be married.
  4. Both partners lived in Texas as a married couple.
  5. The couple presented themselves as a “married couple” to friends, family, and the general public.
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common law marriage
Declaration of Informal Marriage

While completing a “Declaration of Informal Marriage” is one way to establish a common law marriage in Texas, courts also consider other evidence of mutual intent, such as:

  • Living together as a couple.
  • Introducing each other as spouses.
  • One partner adopting the other’s last name.
  • Filing joint tax returns.
  • Sharing finances.
  • Being named on each other’s health insurance policy.
  • Wearing wedding rings.
  • Designating one partner as the beneficiary on the other’s life insurance policy.

Courts assess all relevant circumstances to determine whether a couple meets the criteria for a common law marriage, as no single fact is determinative.

Importance of Establishing Common Law Marriage in Texas

Couples may seek to establish common law marriage for two primary reasons:

  1. Asset Distribution: In the event of a breakup, proving a common law marriage becomes relevant to the distribution of assets between partners.
  2. Inheritance: If one partner passes away without a will, the court relies on Texas laws of intestacy to determine inheritance. Establishing a common law marriage in Texas becomes critical as it affects the surviving partner’s rights to the deceased partner’s estate.

If you find yourself dealing with probate issues in a common law marriage, The Probate Law Group can provide valuable guidance. Whether you seek rightful inheritance or need to address a contested common law marriage claim, our experienced estate planning attorneys can assist you. Schedule a consultation today at (713) 574-6080 or reach us through our online contact form. Our office is conveniently located at 1900 St. James Pl. Suite 430, Houston, TX 77056.