• Responsive
  • Dedicated
  • Experienced
  • Compassionate
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Contact Us

Chowins Law Firm 
405 State Highway 121
Suite A250
Lewisville, TX 75067
Tel: (469) 630-2550

  

Family Law: Divorce, 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 

Guardianship & Probate Administration

  • Probate of Estates and Administration
  • Will Contests
  • Guardianship of Minors and Incapacitated Persons
  • Guardianship Alternatives
  • Guardianship Litigation
  • Small Estate Administration
  • Intestate Succession
  • Independent Administration
  • Muniment of Title Proceedings
  • Court Supervised Administration
  • Estate Tax Returns
  • Claims Against Estate

Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

  • 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

 

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

David Chowins

David Chowins is a family law and divorce attorney with over twenty years experience in practice. He established his own law practice in the Fall of 2000 after several years practicing with two of the nation's top law firms.    

"Don't try to be the best lawyer in Texas, but rather be the best lawyer in each day in each case for each client.  That way your performance can be measured, learned from, and improved upon.  Trying to be the best lawyer period is simply an aspirational goal that can never be achieved and will not help one become a better lawyer."

David Chowins

David focuses on divorce and family law which includes estate planning, guardianship law, and probate law.  These areas often include litigation of various types including, divorce and child custody cases, probate challenges, guardianship litigiation, among other types of cases.

David also serves as both Attorney Ad Litem and Guardian ad Litem where he is tasked by the court to represent parties that have a stake in the litigation but are not present or to advise the court 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 their own best interests.   

Read more

Featured Article

  • Guardianship of Minor Children

    Who Can Serve as a Guardian of Minor Children?

Generally, any person could apply and potentially serve as a guardian of a minor child unless the court finds that one of the following exceptions applies to the applicant.

  • Persons who are minors or who are otherwise incapacitated.      
  • Persons incapable of properly managing or controlling the ward or the ward's estate due to lack of experience, lack of education or "other good reason."
  • Persons the court finds otherwise unsuitable
  • Persons with a history of notoriously bad conduct. While not specifically defined, the following acts are presumed to be "notoriously bad conduct": any sexual offense, including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and prohibited sexual conduct; aggravated assault; injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual; abandoning or endangering a child; terroristic threat; or continuous violence against the family of the ward or incapacitated person.
  • Persons with a conflict of interest with the proposed ward.       Such conflicts could include indebtedness to the proposed ward, being a party to a suit affecting the welfare of the potential ward, or asserting claims adverse to the proposed ward or the ward's property.
  • Persons the proposed ward properly disqualified as part of a valid written declaration made while the proposed ward had capacity to make such a declaration.
  • Person who has not completed the required certification to serve as a guardian. This can be corrected by taking a basic course.
  • Persons who are nonresidents, unless the nonresident obtains a registered agent in Texas for service of process.
  • Persons subject to a protective order for family violence

Priorities in Selecting Guardians of Minor Children

Since more than one person will often be both qualified and willing to serve as a guardian of the minor, Texas courts will give priorities to

Read more ...