- “agree to be married”; and
- “after the agreement, they live together in Texas as husband and wife”; and they
- “represent to others that they are married”
It's probably no secret the Texas Legislature has enacted some pretty dumb laws over the years. However, in my world, there is perhaps no dumber law than the Lone Star State's recognition of a "Common Law Marriage."
To be recognized as spouses in Texas, a couple needs only:
What happens when the happy couple wants to split up? What happens when one of the "spouses" dies?
Here's what happens: One of the spouses will have to spend a lot of money he or she shouldn't have to spend in order to prove he or she was actually married to the other person.
There is no common law divorce. You have to go through the whole court routine in order to get a judgment of divorce. Therefore, you can bet the spouse who may have to pay alimony will allege the couple was never really married when the other spouse sues for divorce. That means one or more court hearings - with witnesses, with lawyers. Time-consuming and expensive.
When one of the spouses dies without a will, what do you want to bet that the greedy relatives will say the couple was never really married so that the survivor will be shut out of the decedent's estate? All together now: one or more court hearings - with witnesses, with lawyers. Time-consuming and expensive.
Here's the deal: We live in a disposable society. Why not buck the trend? If you love each other enough to hook up on a permanent basis, get the piece of paper. It will actually save you money when the relationship ends.
If you have questions about your Common Law Marriage, contact an experienced Family Law Attorney.
And remember: "If it's not written down, it doesn't exist."