Am I in a Common Law Marriage?


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We have all heard the term common law marriage, but people sometimes assume they are in a common-law marriage when they are not – or, conversely, believe they are not in a common-law marriage when they are. Common-law marriage is not merely a matter of living with another person for a specified period. Instead, there are reasonably exacting standards that must be met, and the judge assigned to your case will make the final determination. If you have concerns about common law marriage, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Killeen divorce attorney. 

The Three Elements of a Common Law Marriage

To establish that your relationship is or is not a common-law marriage, you will need to demonstrate (or disprove) the following:

  • You must have agreed between yourselves that you were married.

  • You must have held out the fact of your marriage to others.

  • You must have lived together as husband and wife.

Establishing Your Marriage Between Yourselves

Many couples stay together for a very long time but never consider themselves married. For your relationship to qualify as a common-law marriage, you must have agreed that you were married. Marriage is more than just a feeling – instead, it is an explicit commitment that you must have both verbally signed off on (even if you never made it official by obtaining a marriage license through the court).

Holding Out Your Married Status to Others

To qualify as a common-law marriage, you need to have held out to others that you are married. You and your common-law spouse consider yourself married and let your friends, family, loved ones, and others know – by your actions or by your words. For example, did you rent your home together or is only one of your names on the lease; do you check married or single when you fill out medical records; and other questions like these can serve as useful indicators.


To qualify as a common-law marriage, you and your common-law spouse must have lived together as husband and wife. Planning to live together will not cut it regarding establishing a common-law marriage. Conversely, determining that you lived together but never consummated your common law marriage is unlikely to convince a judge that you were not involved in a common-law marriage if all the other necessary components are in place.

Reach Out to an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Today

If you have questions or concerns about common law marriage, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a dedicated divorce attorney who can help you find the answers you need. Mr. Pritchard is on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.


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