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Common Law Marriage Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas

Common law marriage, also known as informal marriage, is a recognized form of marriage in several U.S. states, including Texas. Unlike traditional marriages where couples obtain a marriage license and hold a ceremony, common law marriage doesn’t require these formal steps. Instead, it can occur simply based on the actions and behavior of the couple. Here, we’ll explore the rules for establishing a common law marriage in Texas, why it’s important to know whether you’re common law married, and how you can prevent an unintended common law marriage.

What Are the Rules for Common Law Marriage in Texas?

In Fort Worth and throughout Texas, common law marriage is legally referred to as an “informal marriage.” For a couple to be considered informally married in Texas, they must meet three specific criteria:

  1. Agreement to be Married: Both partners must agree that they are married.
  2. Living Together: The couple must live together in Texas as a married couple.
  3. Representation to Others: The couple must present themselves to others as married, which can include actions like using the same last name, referring to each other as husband or wife, or filing joint tax returns.

Additionally, Texas allows couples to make their informal marriage “official” through a declaration. This involves filing a form with the county clerk’s office, stating that they agree they are married. This declaration can simplify legal processes such as inheritance, property rights, and spousal benefits.

Why Is It Important to Know If You Are Common Law Married?

Understanding whether you are common law married is crucial for several reasons, particularly concerning legal rights and responsibilities. Here are a few areas where being common law married in Texas can have significant implications:

  • Property Rights: In a common law marriage, you have the same rights as couples in a formal marriage, which means property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and could be divided equally if the relationship ends.
  • Inheritance Rights: Common law spouses have the right to inherit from each other in the absence of a will.
  • Spousal Benefits: Being common law married allows you access to certain benefits, such as health insurance plans and social security benefits, typically reserved for married couples.
  • Divorce: If you decide to end the relationship, you must go through the formal divorce process to dissolve a common law marriage, just as you would with a traditional marriage. This includes potential alimony, child support, and the division of assets.

How Can You Prevent Being Married Under Common Law?

If you are cohabitating with a partner in Texas but do not wish to be considered married by common law, you can take several steps to make your intentions clear:

  1. Written Agreement: Consider signing a cohabitation agreement with your partner that explicitly states that both parties do not intend to be recognized as married. This document can serve as clear evidence of your intentions if there’s ever a dispute about the nature of your relationship.
  2. Be Clear in Your Representations: Be cautious about how you present your relationship to others. Avoid referring to each other as husband or wife, and be clear with those around you that you are not married.
  3. Maintain Separate Finances: Avoid commingling your finances, such as having joint bank accounts or titles to property. Keeping your finances separate can help reinforce that you do not intend to be viewed as married.

Let the Experienced Fort Worth Family Law Attorneys at Boyd Law Firm Help

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Common law marriage in Texas offers couples a way to have their relationship recognized as a marriage without the formalities of a traditional marriage. However, it also carries significant legal implications that can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Understanding the rules of common law marriage and clearly communicating your relationship intentions are key to managing your legal rights and responsibilities in Texas. If you believe you might be in a common law marriage or want to avoid entering one unintentionally, consult with the professionals at Boyd Law Firm. We can offer personalized advice based on your situation.

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We can help you through this difficult time in your life. Just contact us today, and Mr. Boyd and his seasoned staff will give you the benefit of our experience and knowledge to help you decide which course of action is best for you and your partner.