An informal or common law marriage is a marriage between a man and woman who agree to be married, live together as husband and wife, and hold themselves out to others as husband and wife, but who have not obtained a marriage license and participated in a marriage ceremony. Common law marriages have been recognized in Texas since 1847.
Requirements for a common law marriage.
To enter into a common law marriage, a party must establish that she has met the statutory requirements of the Texas Family Code, and has the capacity to enter into the marriage. The statutory elements are found in Section 2.401 of the Texas Family Code and require the parties: (1) must agree to be married; (2) live together in Texas as husband and wife; and (3) represent to others in Texas that they are husband and wife. All three of these elements must be present at the same time for there to be a common law marriage.
Capacity to enter into a common law marriage.
A party seeking to establish an informal marriage must demonstrate that she is legally capable of marrying. In order to be legally capable of marrying in Texas, the parties must be: (1) members of the opposite sex; (2) at least 18 years of age; (3) unrelated; and (4) not currently married to someone else.
Legal effects of common law marriages.
A common law marriage has the same legal consequences and effect as a ceremonial marriage.