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 marriages.
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 including:
- 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 are handled.
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 out as married to the public.
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, ring, or bridal shower).
For more information about common law marriage, contact Kimberly Moss at (713) 574-8626.