Does a Texas Common Law Marriage Need to End In Divorce?

Essentially a divorce is necessary to end any marriage. If you’re hoping for a solution to a relationship that simply never made it to marriage, you may be hoping that a common-law marriage will help you avoid a lot of paperwork. Or, it could go the opposite way where you’re hoping to have some degree of protection over shared assets and more through a divorce proceeding. Yes, if you had an official common law marriage in Texas, then you need to file for divorce.

But it’s a complex issue. Luckily, a divorce attorney that practices in Houston can help you.

What is a Common Law Marriage in Texas?

Did you represent to friends that you were married? This representation can be as simple as calling yourself “wifey” or referring to your partner as a husband or wife. Even saying something such as, “I mean, we’re basically married,” can stand to showcase a common-law marriage.

A common law marriage in Houston and throughout Texas must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be clear that the couple agreed to get married. (Even if they never got married or there was never a proposal).
  2. The couple lived together “as husband and wife,” typically most couples live together in this fashion.
  3. Represented to others (friends, family, or through social media) that they were married.

These three things don’t stand alone, though. Couples still need to register an informal marriage in writing with the county clerk’s office. That’s right, even after living together for years and being a Facebook husband, you may not have had a common-law marriage.

Why Does Common Law Marriage Exist?

In many ways, a common law marriage is the same as a standard marriage. You probably filed taxes together, lived together, possibly owned a home or other large assets together, and more. However, for some people, a common-law marriage is a way to maintain some degree of independence, although it makes the two a legal couple in every way that a marriage certificate does. Some drafts of common-law marriage agreements include caveats such as “both parties agree to remain individuals together.”

 The reason for the need of a record is to prove the date of establishment of the common law marriage. To simply say that you’ve been together for ten years or more isn’t enough. You need to legally showcase that your “marriage” happened on a specific date.

The reasoning between choosing a common law marriage over a standard marriage is vague. Couples each have their own rationale, and really no one can or should judge either way. Common-law marriage is often a situation where one person rebelling against a system that seems oppressive can agree to a long-term commitment.

How to Divide Assets After the Relationship Ends

Because you’re going through the standard divorce proceedings, you’ll need an attorney. If you fail to dissolve the marriage then you’re looking at a lot of trouble down the road. Dividing assets is something that you can plan amicably, or you can leave your lawyers to deciding what is fair for each person.

There is no guarantee on a 50/50 split, alimony, spousal support, or any other type of support. Unlike decades ago, there is not such an imbalanced view on what each person is capable of putting into a relationship.

What Happens When Children are Involved?

When children are part of the common law marriage, you may need to make a formal custody agreement with a family lawyer. Your divorce lawyer may practice family law as a whole and handle custody as well, or they may not. Custody agreements, even when both parents are on good terms, should be formal.

You don’t necessarily have to take the former partner to court and drag them through a difficult process. You can sit down with them and an attorney and say that this is what you both agree to when it comes to your children.

Contacting a Family Law Attorney in Houston

A family law attorney in Houston is usually the key to dissolving these long-term relationships. They can help keep things civil and remove the rush or hesitation in handling asset division. There’s even the chance for people to look closer at the elements with an objective standpoint.

Our Houston, Texas family law firm gives individuals a chance to become individuals again with as little pain in the process. Not every divorce or dissolution is a long-drawn-out event. But, it’s evident that you need someone to fight your corner and get what you need out of the ending of this partnership.