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Understanding Common-Law Marriage: Do You Need a Divorce?

Understanding Common-Law MarriageCommon law marriage is a form of marriage recognized in some states where couples can be considered legally married without obtaining a marriage license or having a formal marriage ceremony. Instead, common law marriage is established through the couple's actions and intentions to be married.

Currently, common-law marriage is recognized in only a few states in the United States. These states include Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Each state has its own specific requirements for a common-law marriage to be valid, so it's important for couples to familiarize themselves with the laws in their state.

In Texas, couples must agree to be married, live together as spouses, and represent themselves to others as a married couple. Each state has its own set of requirements, and it's important to fully understand the laws in your state before assuming you are in a common-law marriage.

It's essential for couples in states that recognize common-law marriage to understand the legal implications of this type of marriage. For instance, in the event of a separation or the death of one partner, the couple may have the same legal rights and obligations as couples who are formally married. It's also important to note that not all states recognize common-law marriage, so if a couple moves to a state that does not recognize it, they may not be considered legally married in that state.

The second method of establishing a common law marriage is described in Section 2.401 of the Texas Family Code. It requires that both parties agree to be married, live together in Texas as husband and wife, and hold themselves out to the public as such.

It's important to remember that the laws regarding common-law marriage can be complex and vary from state to state. It's recommended that couples seeking to establish a common law marriage consult with a legal professional to ensure they understand their rights and responsibilities. Additionally, couples may want to consider formally getting married to ensure their relationship is legally recognized regardless of where they live.

List of States That Recognize Common Law Marriage.

In the United States, common law marriage refers to a legal framework in which a couple can be considered married without obtaining a marriage license or having a ceremony. Common law marriage is recognized in some states, and couples who meet certain criteria are given the same legal rights and responsibilities as traditionally married couples.

As of 2021, common-law marriage is recognized in the following states:

  1. Colorado
  2. Iowa
  3. Kansas
  4. Montana
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Texas
  7. Utah

In these states, couples must meet specific requirements to be considered in a common law marriage, such as presenting themselves as a married couple, cohabitating, and agreeing to be married. It's important to note that each state has its own set of rules and criteria for recognizing common-law marriage, and couples should be aware of the laws in their specific state.

It's also worth noting that while common-law marriage is recognized in these states, it may not be recognized in other states. This means that if a couple in a common-law marriage moves to another state that does not recognize common-law marriage, their marital status may not be acknowledged.

In recent years, there has been a trend of states abolishing common-law marriage or refusing to recognize it. This has led to some confusion and uncertainty for couples in common-law marriages, as they may not have the same legal protections and benefits as traditionally married couples in certain states.

In conclusion, common law marriage is still recognized in a handful of states in the United States, but the legal landscape is evolving. Couples in common-law marriages should be aware of the laws in their state and seek legal advice if they have any questions or concerns about their marital status.

Talk to a Lawyer

An experienced divorce lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you with your divorce case. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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