Texas Common-law Marriage
Texas recognizes common-law marriages or what Texas calls “Informal Marriages.” There are two different ways you can have an informal marriage:
- Agreeing to be married; living together in Texas after the agreement; and, representing to others that you are married; or,
- Signing a “Declaration of Marriage.
A person who claims a common law marriage must prove it. A proceeding to prove the informal marriage has a statute of limitations. The proceeding must be filed within certain time limits after the date of death of one of the spouses or within the time limits after the date the parties ceased living together as husband and wife. If a proceeding is not commenced within the statute of limitations, there is a rebuttable presumption that the parties did not have a common-law marriage. FC 2.401.
Once proven, a common-law spouse is treated the same as any other spouse in Texas.
In a 2019 case, a Declaration of Marriage was filed in 2015 saying that the parties had been married since 2010. If they were married in 2010, it would be too late to contest the marriage. If they were married in 2015, the man’s children could contest the marriage. The court ruled that there was no evidence that the parties held themselves out as husband and wife (representing to others that you are married) before 2015. The children contested the marriage of 2015 saying that he was not mentally competent to marry. The jury agreed with the children that he was not mentally competent. 13-17-00431-CV.