San Antonio Common Law Marriage Attorneys

San Antonio Lawyers Explain Common Law Marriage

San Antonio divorce attorneys answer your questions about informal marriages

In Texas, common law marriage is recognized as a legal union between a man and a woman (or same-sex partners) who meet certain criteria, regardless of whether they have obtained a marriage license or participated in a formal ceremony. Common law marriage can have significant legal implications, particularly in the event of separation or divorce. Disputes over property division, spousal support, and other matters may arise, requiring the intervention of legal professionals knowledgeable in Texas family law. At Grable Grimshaw, PLLC, our San Antonio divorce lawyers have an extensive understanding of the intricacies of these types of marriages and can answer all of your questions. Schedule a consultation with us today.


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What is common law marriage in Texas?

In Texas, common law marriage, also known as informal marriage, recognizes a marriage between two people who have met certain criteria, even if they did not obtain a marriage license or have a formal ceremony. To be considered common law married in Texas, the following conditions must be met:

  • Agreement: You must agree to be married and live together in Texas as spouses.
  • Representation: You must represent yourself to others as married, which means holding yourself out to the public as a married couple.
  • Cohabitation: You must live together in Texas as spouses.

Informal marriage is laid out in Texas statute. If these criteria are met, the couple is considered legally married, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as couples who obtained a marriage license and had a formal ceremony. However, proving a common law marriage can sometimes be complex, especially if there is a dispute or if one party denies the existence of the marriage.

If we live together for a certain amount of time, are we common law married?

No. You must satisfy the three requirements listed earlier.

If we have children together, are we common law married?

No. You must satisfy the three requirements for common law or informal marriage listed earlier.

What is a declaration of informal marriage?

In Texas, a Declaration of Informal Marriage is a legal document that can be used to establish a common law marriage (also known as an informal marriage) between two individuals. This declaration can be signed and filed with the county clerk's office to officially document the existence of the common law marriage.

The Declaration of Informal Marriage typically includes the following information:

  • Names and addresses of both parties
  • Date when the parties agreed to be married
  • Date when the parties began living together as spouses
  • Statement affirming that the parties have represented themselves as married to others
  • Signatures of both parties

Once the declaration is signed and filed, the common law marriage is legally recognized in the state of Texas. This means that the couple is entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as couples who obtained a marriage license and had a formal ceremony.

It's important to note that while a Declaration of Informal Marriage can help clarify the existence of a common law marriage, in Texas, it is not always necessary to have such a document to prove the existence of a common law marriage. The key factors in establishing a common law marriage are the couple's agreement to be married, living together as spouses, and representing themselves as married to others.

When might I need to prove a common law marriage?

There are two important times when you may need to prove a common law marriage – in the event of divorce or inheritance. For example, with divorce it’s important to remember that all property acquired during a marriage, whether it’s a formal or informal marriage, is community property. After proving a common law marriage, community property is divided the same as if you and your spouse were formally married. Debts accumulated during common law marriage are also divided between the two of you. If no common law marriage is proven, there are no marital debts and assets to divide. You will both keep your personal property and any property titled to you, and will be individually responsible for your debts.

In terms of inheritance, whether married formally or common law, a spouse may inherit from the other spouse if the spouse dies without a will. If you can prove you were informally married to the decedent, you may be able to claim a share of the estate.

common law marriage in San Antonio

How do I prove a common law marriage?

There isn’t one particular way to prove a common law marriage. The court infers an agreement to be married by a variety of proof, including the fact that you may have:

  • Lived together
  • Told others you were married
  • Used your partner’s last name
  • File joint tax returns
  • Signed documents as spouses
  • Made joint purchases
  • Included your spouse on your health insurance
  • Made joint loan applications or agreements
  • Applied for public benefits together
  • Listing your partner as your “spouse”
  • Had children together

For example, introducing your partner as your spouse on a single occasion may not be enough to prove common law marriage, but it could be if it was coupled with other types of evidence.

Can same-sex couples be common law married?

Yes. All of this applies to same-sex couples, but you must have lived in Texas after you agreed to be married.

Are common law marriages recognized in other states?

Once you enter into common law marriage here in Texas, it becomes a legal marriage. Because all states recognize legal marriages from other states, even if you move to a state that does not recognize common law marriage, your marriage is still recognized.

Can I avoid divorce if I’m common law married?

No. Common law marriage is not a loophole to avoid divorce. Once you are common law married, you have all the rights and responsibilities of a traditional marriage. This means you cannot just separate; a marriage can only end through divorce, annulment, or if one of the spouses dies.

Talk to our San Antonio divorce lawyers today

At Grable Grimshaw, PLLC, we can answer any questions you have about common law or informal marriages in Texas. If you would like to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Antonio divorce lawyer, just call our offices or fill out our contact form.