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Can I Benefit From a Common Law Marriage in Texas?

 Posted on April 11, 2024 in Family Law

Frisco, TX famiy lawyerBeing married comes with certain rights and benefits under Texas law. Married spouses, for instance, have rights to certain properties and assets acquired by each other during the marriage. Spouses also may have rights to benefits in the event of a divorce, such as :

  • Spousal support, or alimony

  • Inheritance rights

  • The right to a fair distribution of marital property

  • The right to act on behalf of your partner in certain cases

Unmarried couples who live together, however, do not necessarily have access to such benefits. As always, it is best to consult with an experienced family lawyer who can help you understand your rights. 

A question often asked by unmarried couples is if they can receive those benefits from a common law marriage. This article will discuss what a common law marriage is and how unmarried couples can still receive the benefits of marriage through a cohabitation agreement.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage, also known as a de facto marriage or an informal marriage, is recognized in several states. It is when a couple does not officially get married and has no marriage certificate but is nevertheless considered married by the law. It is often thought that this happens automatically when a couple cohabits, or lives together, for a certain amount of time.

But this is not the case in Texas. For two unmarried people who live together to be considered married, Texas law requires that they meet the following conditions:

  • Both partners must agree to marry.

  • They must live together as husband and wife.

  • They must represent themselves to the public as husband and wife.

Only if these criteria are met can the couple be eligible to be considered in a common law marriage and have the rights and benefits that come with an official marriage.

If you are unmarried and living with your partner but do not qualify for a common law marriage, you can still receive marital rights by signing a cohabitation agreement.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement. It is a document signed by you and your partner that outlines what will happen if the relationship ends or one of you passes away. This includes who will pay spousal support if applicable, the amount of the payments, how assets and properties will be divided, how inheritances will be distributed, and any other rights and responsibilities that you might want to include.

Contact a Frisco, TX Family Lawyer

Remaining unmarried to your partner means there is no divorce procedure if the relationship ends. But it also means you do not have the same rights and responsibilities as a husband or wife. The best thing to do is consult with a Collin County, Illinois family law attorney who can advise you about whether a cohabitation agreement is right for you. Call the The Law Office of Linda Risinger at 972-294-6533 for a free consultation. We will fight for the best result while keeping cost-effectiveness in mind.

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