Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC

Does common law marriage include same-sex couples in Texas?

Common law marriage is uncommon across the U.S., and Texas is one of only a handful of states that still allows for common law or "informal" marriages in some circumstances.

In the aftermath of Obergefell, however, same-sex couples living in common-law states may wonder what this means for their relationships. Learning that you and a partner are (or were) married in the eyes of the law could have far-reaching consequences for everything from child custody to inheritance.

First, here are the three main requirements for a common law marriage to be recognized under Texas law:

  • You must agree to be married.
  • You must live together as a married couple.
  • You must tell others you are married.

In addition, you must be at least 18 years old. Note that there are no time requirements - you do not have to have lived together for any particular length of time.

Although the letter of Texas's informal marriage law refers to "the marriage of a man and woman," does the federal legalization of same-sex marriage extend the informal marriage law to all couples? A landmark ruling last year suggests that it does.

Last October, a county probate judge ruled that an eight-year relationship between two women could be considered a marriage under law, even though they never received a marriage license, since they had lived and presented themselves as married. The couple had celebrated a marriage ceremony in 2008 that wasn't recognized under Texas law at the time, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Marriage law is still developing across Texas and across the country, so it's a good idea to consult an attorney if you're unsure of the status of your own relationship under state or federal law.

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At Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC, we have received a variety of honors and awards for our family law services. Members of our team have been listed as Top Lawyers in San Antonio Scene magazine. We take pride in the number of positive reviews we have received from satisfied clients. On AVVO, a lawyer rating website, we have received an 8.9 rating overall and many positive ratings from clients and colleagues.

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Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC
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