Like many other Texas residents, you may have had a long-term relationship with someone without having been formally married. Some states recognize common law marriage, which can give couples certain legal protections during their relationship and after they split up. In common law marriage states, property division and other matters are treated much the same way as divorce among legally married people.
What about alimony, you may wonder? If you and your common law spouse were never married, are you entitled to spousal support after the relationship ends? First, it can help to understand the definition of a common law marriage. As FindLaw explains, Texas recognizes common law marriages when the following conditions have been met:
- You and your partner agree to be married.
- You both live (cohabitate) together as a married couple.
- You tell others you are married and conduct your business as a married couple – for example, apply for loans as if you are legally married.
If you are in a common law marriage in Texas and decide to end your relationship, it is not as easy as simply parting ways. The end of your relationship is treated as a formal divorce. You will need to divide your marital property – assets and debts you acquired during the relationship, such as a home, bank account funds, retirement accounts and credit card debt. You or your spouse may also be eligible for spousal support according to Texas laws on alimony, which include the length of time you were in the relationship and your financial status.
Since common law marriage issues can be complex, this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.