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My ex and I lived together for 1 year and before that off and on for 2. Do I have common law marriage rights?

Houston, TX |

I would like to know if I can take my ex to court to get half of our money and household goods and vehicles. Everything is in her name and everything we accumulated after we moved in together. I was working bringing in the income and she was not employed and actually never has been since I have known her. Do I fall under Texas common law marriage and if so what rights do I have. When I left I only got to leave with the clothes on my back. She wouldn't let me take anything, not even my toothbrush!

Attorney Answers 4


  1. The elements for informal marriage (common law) are that you two resided together, portrayed that you two were married, and had an agreement to be married.

    Typically the evidence you use tax records, insurance documents, etc, where you two claimed to be married.

    Eric Dick, LL.M.; Office: 832-207-2007; Cell: 713-498-7969; Email: eric@dicklawfirm.com; website: www.dicklawfirm.com LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Mr. Dick is licensed to practice law in Texas and his office located in Harris County. Mr. Dick primarily practices insurance law in Texas and offers free consultations. Mr. Dick is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Often times the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Dick strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in his or her state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


  2. For the elements to be met the couple must:
    Cohabitate (live together),
    Hold out as man & wife (call each other wife, husband to third parties), AND INTEND to be married.  
    Please consult a Family attorney in your area. Many, like myself, give a free initial consult and can give you clearer guidance based on all the specific facts of your case. Even if you did not have an informal marriage, you may pursue relief through civil courts, and/or court ordered mediation.

    This answer is general information which does not establish any attorney-client relationship between the person asking a question and the person answering, or a duty to respond to ongoing questions; nor is it intended to replace competent legal assistance in the jurisdiction where the matter/issue arises or is before a Court.


  3. You need to meet with a Houston attorney in person & discuss your case. Quite frankly, the other 2 attorneys outlined "common law" marriage for Texas. However, I cannot tell if you have a TX common law marriage. Therefore, I can't tell your next course of action.

    Good luck!

    Attorney Brochstein is donating her time and talent by answering questions to help those in need of legal information. If you found this answer "helpful" or "best answer", please select the button to show your appreciation. Please understand that this is not a consultation and in no way creates an attorney-client relationship. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in your county in person about your specific problem.


  4. Your own statement indicates there is no common law marriage. Although you lived together, you did not consider yourself married. Even if you were to consider yourself married, your ex will stress she did not so consider herself married. The third element, whether you held yourself out as married, is not indicated on the items you accumulated together. It also sounds that if you were to go into a Justice of the Peace (J.P.) Court there is nothing you can claim as solely belonging to you. Review your charge cards and chec book and see if you have any evidence of what may be owed back to you. If you choose to live with someone again, you may way to enter into a contractual agreement and take those items ;you solely pay for in your own name. You can represent yourself in Justice of the Peace court.