Common law marriage is one of the easier ways to be considered married in Texas. There is no set time limit where you and your spouse must live together, you do not have to go through a wedding or marriage ceremony, and you can reap the benefits that a traditional married couple receives, including those benefits present during a divorce. A skilled lawyer with experience in common law and traditional marriage can help better explain both sides, the good and the bad.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is a way for couples to access the marital rights of a traditional married union without having to go through the ceremony generally associated with one. Both straight and gay couples can become officially married through a common law marriage in Texas. For a common law marriage to be made official, both parties must agree to be married to one another, live together as a married couple in Texas, and present themselves to others as married. You can present yourselves as married by acting as a married couple publicly. This can include:

  • Sharing bills that use the same last name of one spouse
  • Filing joint income taxes
  • Making joint purchases on things like vehicles or a house
  • Testimony of friends, family, and community attesting to your marital status

The key is to remain consistent in your display and not use marriage only when it appears beneficial to you. A court could easily decide not to acknowledge your common law marriage as legitimate if they find evidence that the benefits are being abused.

Common Law Marriage Benefits

Couples living together who claim and represent themselves as married can receive the following benefits:

  • Eligible to receive Social Security benefits from a spouse
  • Qualify for health insurance and other employer benefits through your spouse
  • Marital exemptions to your estate are unlimited
  • Property inheritance through your spouse’s will
  • Medical emergency decision rights for one another
  • Child custody rights
  • Marital property and asset rights in the event of divorce
  • Tax deductions and exemptions meant for married couples can be taken advantage of

For either spouse to enjoy these benefits, they must present proof of marriage. Traditionally, married couples receive a marriage certificate with official signatures showing the marriage is legal and legitimate. Common law married couples in Texas can file for a Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage instead. They can also forgo this document to use other forms of documentation, such as lease agreements or tax returns, to show that they share a household.

Contact a Fort Worth, TX Family Law Attorney

Common law marriage in Texas is not much different from traditional marriage and carries the same benefits. However, common law married couples looking to dissolve their union will require a traditional divorce. As such, an experienced Dallas, TX divorce lawyer is someone you will want in your corner. Contact the Clark Law Group at 469-765-3910 to set up an appointment today.