For decades, the US marriage rate has steadily declined. A 2014 study by Pew Research found that, in 2012, one in five adults over the age of 25 had never been married. In 1960, only one in ten adults wasn't married by their mid-20s.
Even though marriage rates are at an all-time low, the number of couples cohabiting (living together without marrying) has steadily increased. A study on cohabitation by Pew found that, from 2007 to 2017, the number of cohabiting adults was up 29%.
Many cohabiting adults avoid marriage because they dislike the process and don't want to deal with various elements of traditional marriage, like getting a marriage license or having a ceremony presided over by a religious figure. However, unbeknownst to many Texans, there is an alternative for couples that want to legally tie the knot without a traditional ceremony: common law marriage.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our team helps Texans get married using common law marriage statutes. To schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about common law marriage, contact us online or via phone at (512) 991-0576.
What is Common Marriage Law in Texas?
Texas is one of just a hand full of states that recognizes common marriage. In the state of Texas, the law states a common marriage may be proved by evidence the couple agreed to be married, lived together in the state as a married couple, and presented themselves as married to others.
To be eligible for a common law marriage with your partner, you must meet three requirements:
- You and your partner agree to be married. This means consenting to a permanent marital relationship with your partner at the time you file your common law marriage case. A written agreement signed by both parties is probably the easiest way to show a court you meet this requirement, but your actions may also serve as proof of intent (more on that in a minute).
- You and your partner agree to live together as married individuals.
- You and your partner present yourselves to others as a married couple. This is probably the most challenging requirement to meet. If you have witnesses testify that you and your partner act as married for all intents and purposes, that could serve as proof for this requirement. You may also be able to use a legal contract like a mortgage or car loan as evidence if you fill it out as husband and wife.
In addition to these three requirements, couples must also meet the normal requirements for Texas couples that want to get married. You and your partner must be:
- At least 18 years old,
- Not related to one another by blood, and
- Not married to anyone else.
If you wish to enter a common law marriage with your partner, you must file a common law marriage case with your county court. A common law marriage lawyer can work with you to gather evidence and build your case to help ensure that the court accepts your request for a common law marriage.
If the court approves of your common law marriage, you and your partner will be legally married for all intents and purposes. That means if you want to end your partnership, you will need to file for a formal divorce as though you did get a traditional marriage.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our Austin common law marriage lawyers can usher you through the common law marriage process and help you build a future with your partner.
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