Same-sex couples across Texas and the U.S. rejoiced in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. While the ruling made matrimony easier, it complicated divorce proceedings.
When an opposite-sex couple divorces, judges take into account their marriage date to determine how assets should be split and whether an individual should receive alimony. However, many same-sex couples had been cohabitating years before they were legally allowed to be married. The question becomes, should a judge consider how long a same-sex couple had been together before getting married? The situation may be different if a couple had started dating after the 2015 landmark decision.
Some courts will agree to consider relationship length before marriage in certain situations. One way this could work is through a claim of common law marriage, which is simply when a couple agrees to marry without formalities. According to FindLaw, common law marriage is recognized in Texas as a valid and legal way for couples to marry. There are three necessary parts of a common law marriage in order for a judge to declare it valid:
- A couple must have “agreed to be married”
- The two must have “lived together in Texas”
- The couple must have “represented to others” that they were married
By knowing how long a couple has been together before filing for divorce, a judge can make a more informed decision as to how to split assets and designate child custody. The more information available, the simpler court proceedings can be.