Common Law Marriage Complications in Texas


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Common Law Marriage Complications in Texas

A recent case in Texas demonstrates how complicated the issue of common law marriage can be. Unlike many other states in the nation, Texas continues to recognize common law marriages, which are sometimes called informal marriages. Common law marriages are unique in that a marriage must be proven before a divorce can be sought. In other words, it compiles legal complications on top of legal complications.

Is It a Common Law Marriage?

In order to demonstrate that an informal marriage existed in the first place, the moving party must be able to demonstrate all of the following:

  • The parties agreed between themselves that they were married

  • The parties lived together as spouses in the State of Texas

  • The parties represented themselves to others as a married couple

If you can prove that these three elements apply, the court can rule that a common law marriage exists, and an experienced Fort Hood divorce lawyer can help you with this.

The Case at Hand

In the recent case at hand, the woman challenged the court's determination that the relationship between her and her former partner did not rise to the level of a common law marriage. After the couple broke up, the man filed for a declaratory judgment from the court that they had not established a common law marriage, and the woman filed a counterpetition for a divorce (from their common law marriage). The woman alleges that they maintained a common law marriage beginning in August of 2014, and the man alleges that they were nothing more than boyfriend and girlfriend (or romantic partners).

The Attendant Evidence

The evidence regarding their relationship status is complicated, but the court found it less than compelling (regarding common law marriage).

Domestic Partner

The man worked for an airline and added the woman to his job-related travel benefits as a registered companion, but he later changed her status to domestic partner – in order to allow her children and mother to be afforded benefits. The airline only allowed the designation of domestic partner for same-sex couples, so the couple submitted a notarized affidavit to the airline to indicate they were, indeed, domestic partners.

The Affidavit

The notarized affidavit in question was signed by both the man and the woman, and it stated that they had entered into what they termed a non-solemnized common law marriage in the State of Texas on or about August 1, 2014. There were two versions of the affidavit – one with the August 1 date and one without it. The man was not sure if the date had been on the affidavit he signed, but he noted that the date had no particular meaning to him. The woman testified that it was the date they moved in together.

There was other evidence involved that demonstrated the woman’s understanding that the man didn’t want to be married and other instances in which they both held themselves out as married in order to receive benefits.

The Court’s Decision

Ultimately, the court determined that there was no mutual intention of being married at any given time, and the common law marriage did not pass the necessary test. The appeal court agreed – citing too many instances when the two referred to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Speak with an Experienced Fort Hood Divorce Lawyer Today

Divorce concerns are especially complicated, but Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Fort Hood, Texas, is a formidable divorce lawyer with the legal insight, dedication, and experience to help. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


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