Family Law: Marriage, Children, Elderly

  • Divorce, Separations & Annulments
  • Divorce Settlement Agreements
  • QDRO orders
  • Guardianships of Minors, Elderly & Incapacitated Persons
  • Paternity
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Adoptions
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements 
  • Child Welfare Cases 
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Name Changes 

Wills, Trusts & Estate Plans

  • Estate & Gift Tax Avoidance
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Wealth Preservation
  • Health Care Directives
  • Medical Powers of Attorney
  • Simple and Complex Wills
  • Trust Planning
  • Effective Use of Insurance
  • Planning for Incapacity
  • Charitable Giving & Legacy Planning

 

Tax Law: Tax Controversies and Planning

Tax Controversies

  • Dealing with Unfiled Tax Returns
  • Offers In Compromise
  • Tax Fraud and Evasion
  • Tax Installment Agreements
  • IRS Audits and Investigations
  • Relief from Tax Liens and Tax Levies
  • Payroll Tax Liability
  • Wage Garnishment
  • Obtaining "Currently Not Collectible" (CNC) status for relief from collection efforts
  • Discharging Tax Debt in Bankruptcy
  • Abatement of Penalties and Interest
  • Innocent Spouse Relief
  • Tax Settlements
  • Estate and Gift Taxes
  • Business Taxes
  • IRS Appeals
  • Petitions In U.S. Tax Court

Tax Planning

  • Structure Business Transactions to Minimize Taxes
  • Planning for avoidance of Estate & Gift Taxes
  • Real Estate Transactions including Like-Kind Exchanges
  • Tax Planning for Wealth Preservation
  • Tax Exempt Entities including 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Business Law: Entity Formation & Operation

Formations of Business Entities:

Corporations, S-Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies

Business Operations

Contract Drafting, Corporate Governance, Trademark Protection, Employment Issues, Asset Acquisitions, Tax Planning, Employee Benefits

Business Transactions

Sales of Business, Assets and Business Interests, Business Restructuring, Mergers, Buy-Sell Agreements

Succession Planning

Transfer of Business Interests, Estate Tax Planning, Dissolutions and Mergers

Probate Administration & Litigation

  • Probate of Estates and Administration
  • Will Contests
  • Guardianship of Minors and Incapacitated Persons
  • Guardianship Alternatives
  • Guardianship Litigation

Common Law Marriage in Texas

Informal Marriage

In today's modern world, unmarried couples living together is commonplace, far from the taboo it was at one time.  Many in such relationship have heard of common-law marriages and sooner or later they may worry that they may, in fact, be legally married under Texas law, especially when the relationship ends.  

Myths or simply misconceptions about common law marriage have caused many unnecessary anxiety, but it is important to know what not to do to avoid an unwanted common law marriage.   The most common misconception is the concern that if you live with your partner, Texas considers you married.  While cohabitation is one element of a common law marriage, that alone would not qualify as a common law marriage.  

Requirements of an Common Law Marriage in Texas

Absent a valid declaration of marriage, to prove a common-law marriage was created in Texas, the party alleging the existence of a common law marriage must show that the couple

(1) agreed to be presently married, (as opposed to an agreement to get married in the future)
(2) lived together in Texas after the agreement, and 
(3) represented to others that they were married while still living together (holding themselves out as married),  

Standard and Burden of Proof 

The party alleging the existence of a common law marriage has the burden to show each requirement by a preponderance of the evidence. If the action is brought more than two years after the couple separated and stopped living together, it is rebuttably presumed that the parties did not agree to be married.

Consequences of a Common Law Marriage

Once established, common law marriages created in Texas have the same validity as a ceremonial marriage.    Thus, the marriage will be recognized by all other states pursuant to the constitution's full faith and credit clause.

Ending a Common Law Marriage

Much to the dismay of some, common law divorce does not exist.  Once the common-law marriage is established, it can only be dissolved as any other marriage could, by the death of either party, or by petitioning the court for an annulment or divorce.

Same Sex Common Law Marriages in Texas

The Texas statute for common law marriages refers only to marriages between a man and a woman.  However given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions effectively legalizing same sex marriage throughout the nation, Texas courts have begun recognizing common law marriages between same sex couples in Texas. 

Although the Texas Family Code refers to it as "informal marriage", such informal marriages are regularly referred to as common-law marriages by most non-lawyers.  This article uses "common-law marriage" to avoid confusion of the reader.   

Meet the Owner

David W. Chowins

Portrait David Chowins June 2017 croppedwebsize

David Chowins is an attorney with over twenty years experience. He estsblished Chowins Law Firm in the Fall of 2000 after several years practicing tax and business law with two of the nation's largest law firms.    

Although tax and business law was his focus at the start of his career, David operates his law practice as a general civil practice to serve the needs of his clients.  This can include civil litigation of various types including business disputes, divorce and child custody cases, defamation, among other types of cases.

David also serves as Guardian ad Litem where he is tasked by the court to advise as to the best interest of those who can not advocate for themselves such as minors, incapacitated persons and others who may not be in a position to advocate for themselves.   

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