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Common law marriage is a rapidly disappearing concept in American family law. This is reflected in the fact that very few states throughout the country recognize common law marriage in their legal system. Texas is among the few states left in the union which still recognize this unique institution. In this post, we will discuss the basics of common law marriage here in Texas, highlight how this institution can be created, and point out the contexts in which this institution has the most significance.

Basics of Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage – commonly known as “marriage without formalities” or “informal marriage” in Texas law – describes a relationship which has the outward appearance of marriage without the formality of marriage. In other words, the couple doesn’t have a certificate of marriage signed and approved by the state. The couple has many of the external signs of being married, such as living together, sharing bank accounts, sharing expenses, filing joint tax returns, and so forth.

If a marriage is in fact a common law marriage and is recognized as such by the state, then the couple will have the same privileges and benefits as couples who are formally married. Hence, the determination of whether a common law marriage is valid is a highly important matter.

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