To establish a common-law marriage, a man and woman must (1) meet the statutory requirements under the Texas Family Code; and (2) have the capacity to enter into a marriage.
Statutory requirements under the Texas Family Code
To meet the statutory requirements for a common-law marriage, a man and woman must (a) agree to be married from the moment of the agreement onward; (b) live together as husband and wife in Texas; and (c) hold out to others in Texas that they are husband and wife. All three elements must exist at the same time for a valid common-law marriage.
Capacity to enter into a Common-Law Marriage
A man and woman looking to establish a common-law marriage must demonstrate that they are legally capable of marrying. The following individuals cannot enter into a common-law marriage: (1) a man or woman under age 18; (2) a man or woman related to each other; (3) individuals of the same sex; and (4) a man and woman currently married.
Duration of a Common-Law Marriage
A common-law marriage starts when all of the statutory elements are satisfied at the same time in Texas, and the man and woman have the capacity to marry. A common-law marriage, like a ceremonial marriage, will last until it is dissolved by death, divorce, or annulment. Once a man and woman are involved in a common-law marriage, any later denials of the common-law marriage, by either the man or woman, cannot undo it. There is no common-law divorce in Texas.
Legal effects of a Common-Law Marriage
A common-law marriage has the same legal consequences and effects as a ceremonial marriage.
Additional resources provided by the author
Texas Family Code Â§ 2.401; Texas Family Code Â§2.402; Texas Family Code Â§6.201; Texas Family Code Â§6.202