In today’s society, it is not uncommon to find unmarried couples living together. These couples often share their income, pay bills together, and, sometimes, even make big purchases together, such as buying a new car or even a house. Unfortunately, even unmarried couples have disputes and decide to go their separate ways. When the couples split, some believe that they have a special legal relationship because of their cohabitation, known as a common law marriage, but it takes more than living together to be considered “married.”
In order for a couple to be considered married under “common law,” the following three (3) elements must be met:
- The couple must agree to be married;
- They must live as a married couple in Texas; and
- After reaching the agreement to be married, they must represent to others (the public) that they are a married couple.
The agreement to be married must be a mutual agreement and can be verbal. However, this is one of the hardest things to prove. Many times, in common law divorces, it becomes a he said/she said battle over this verbal agreement so the best thing to do is to sign a written, notarized agreement. Living in Texas as a married couple is self-explanatory. However, you cannot just walk into Texas and file for married. Under Texas law, in order to be considered a residence of Texas, you must live here for at least six (6) months, as a “married” couple. Finally, representing to others that they are married can be proven up in a myriad of ways, such as introducing each other as husband and wife or even representing to insurance companies or signing a mortgage declaring to be a married couple. Keep in mind that every common law divorce case is different and proving up a common law marriage is fact specific. The lawyers at Dodson Legal Group, which include a board-certified family law specialist, can help you determine if you are eligible to file for a common law divorce.
If you are living with someone else and have no intention to be “married,” Dodson Legal Group recommends creating a Non-Marital Cohabitation Agreement. This type of an agreement is a contract between the couple and we can help you draft one. Some things we can put into such a contract are:
- The couple agrees that they are not married or intend to be married;
- That they will not address each other as husband or wife to anyone;
- That any property brought into the cohabitation is considered separate property;
- What will happen to any property purchased in the future; and so forth.
These agreements will protect you and your property, especially those who own a great deal of property and want to avoid losing that property in the future. If you are interested in protecting yourself, please do not hesitate to contact Dodson Legal Group at (469) 400-000.