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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.  Instead, try to be the best lawyer 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 do nothing to help one become a better attorney."

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.   

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Featured Article

  • Child Support Calculation in Texas

    Basic Calculation of Child Support Under Guidelines

    To determine the appropriate amount of child support in any case, the divorce lawyer will first turn to the Texas Child Support Guidelines, which incorporates use a two tiered system for calculating monthly child support.  For a parent obligor with net monthly resources of $8,550 or less, child support is calculated as a percentage of the obligor's monthly net resources--20% for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children, 35% for four children and 40% for five children.   For six or more children before the court, the guidelines only specify that the percentage may not be less than the percentage for five children.    If the parent paying child support has a duty to support other children, such as from a previous or subsequent marriage, the percentage is reduced according to a schedule set by statute to reflect such obligations.  The resources of the parent receiving support are not considered under the guidelines.  However, for an obligor parent with total net resources in excess of $8,550.00 per month the court may order additional amounts based upon the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child.

    Calculating Net Resources for Purpose of Child Support Calculations

    While there are similarities, it is important to note that resources for child support purposes is not the equivalent of income for tax purposes.  Generally, all sources of income

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