People often ask me about their rights as part of a common law marriage. Here are 5 facts about
this arrangement that you may not have known.
1. Common law marriage is not
recognized in every state. Only Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa,
Montana, Oklahoma, Texas, and the District of Columbia recognize common-law
2. In Texas, signing a publicly filed document as “husband and
wife” may be enough to make your relationship common law. The state of Texas requires that you
“hold yourself out” as married, which could mean a number of things
a. Bank accounts in both of your names
b. Real estate
documents (deed, deed of trust) in both of your names
c. Assuming the other person’s
last name or hyphenating your last name
d. Naming each other on life insurance,
retirement, or health insurance policies
3. You might need a divorce if you are
common law married. To protect your financial and familial rights (particularly if you have property
or children together), you have to file for divorce as if you were part of a traditional marriage to
ensure your community property is divided and the terms of child support, custody, and visitation
4. There is no time limit in Texas for how long you have to live
together as husband and wife. All that is required is that you live together, agree to be married,
and hold yourself as married.
5. In the eyes of the law, once you’re
common law married, you are married (in spite of the fact that there may not have been a cake, a
ring, or a bridal shower).
For more information about common law marriage,
contact Kimberly Moss at (713) 574-8626.
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