Common law marriage in Dallas has in recent years become a hot topic in family law practices. More couples are choosing to live together without a traditional marriage ceremony. This raises specific questions in the event of a breakup or end to the relationship. This is particularly true in cases where there is shared property or children involved.
If you’re wondering about your own relationship status and legal rights and obligations in the face of a split, the Law Office of Julie Johnson is prepared to handle your questions. Our family law attorneys are familiar with everything you need to know about the process and can help you to move forward with your life.
How do I know if I’m in a common law marriage in Dallas?
In Texas, common law marriages are referred to as informal marriages. To be married informally or under common law, you must answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Is there an agreement to be married?
- Are you cohabitating or living together in Texas?
- Have you represented to others that you are married?
Below are brief explanations of each of these points. To talk more about these “tests” with a family law attorney, schedule a consultation with an attorney from the Law Office of Julie Johnson.
Common Law Marriage in Dallas, Test #1: Agreement to Be Married
Few common law marriage agreements are in writing, so it often comes down to a matter of “he said, she said.” This means it is very important to think back carefully over past discussions with a romantic partner.
Have you ever talked about and agreed to be married? This does not include discussions of future marriage. Specifically: Did you both say at any point something along the lines of, “I agree to marry you.”
Unfortunately, some people will say they had an agreement to be married in order to gain leverage in the battle for:
- child custody;
- shared property; or
- spousal support.
In cases where each side presents a different argument – one person says there was an agreement and the other says there was not – a judge or jury will have to determine who is telling the truth.
Common Law Marriage in Dallas, Test #2: Cohabitation in Texas
Cohabitation is typically a straightforward matter. This is because many couples in this scenario have lived together for some time. If one partner maintains a residence separate from the other partner, however, the issue becomes more complex.
A family law attorney can help you to answer this question by analyzing how many nights a week were spent together, where mail was received, and other standards that demonstrate cohabitation.
Common Law Marriage in Dallas, Test #3: Representation of Marriage
Consider whether or not you have presented yourself as married. Do you introduce one another as spouses? Have you filed joint income tax returns? What names are on your utility bills, mortgage, or credit cards? What name is on your business card? What about your partner’s business card?
Again, a family law attorney from the Law Office of Julie Johnson can help you to assess your situation to determine whether you have represented yourself as married in the eyes of Texas law.
Be Aware of the Deadline to Claim Common Law Marriage
If you and your partner choose to split up, you have two years in which to file an action to prove your marriage existed. There is no extension beyond those 24 months, so it is critical that you act quickly.
Bear in mind that a partner may claim the relationship ended earlier than it did in order to avoid the legalities of a common law marriage and divorce. Scheduling a consultation today may help to allay some of the stress associated with that deadline.
Common Misconceptions About Dallas Common Law Marriage and Divorce
There are many misconceptions and myths that surround common law marriage:
- living together for “x” amount of time (6 months, 1 year, etc.) means we are married;
- using a partner’s last name – with or without permission – counts as common law marriage; and
- we have kids together and they have the father’s last name, so we’re married.
For Help Ending a Common Law Marriage
If you believe you are involved in a common law marriage and need legal advice on how to initiate a divorce, please contact our offices. You may fill out this online contact form or call 214-265-7630. Our attorneys are prepared to help you with all of your questions about ending a common law marriage in Dallas.