What Creates a Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage presents many questions and misunderstandings. A person in a common law marriage may be unaware of the elements that must be present to form a common law marriage in Texas. The following three elements must be present at the same time for a common law marriage to have occurred:

  • The parties must have an agreement to be married;
  • The parties must have represented to others that they were married (commonly referred to as having “held out” as husband and wife); and
  • You must have lived together in the state of Texas.


How Does a Common Law Marriage End?

There is no “common law divorce.” Once two people have entered into a common law marriage, the only way they can be divorced is by a court of this state, regardless of whether they ever registered a declaration of their informal marriage. A common law marriage is handled similar to the end of a traditional marriage, with the exception that one party may need to establish the existence of the marriage if the other person disputes the marriage ever existed. Community property will continue to accumulate after separation, so it is important that a divorce be sought if the parties were ever informally married.