A common-law marriage is a relationship in which a man and woman agree to be married and live together in Texas as husband and wife while representing to others that they are married. Contrary to popular belief, there are no time requirements for establishing a common-law marriage.
There are two ways to dissolve a common-law marriage. The first is through traditional legal divorce procedures. The second option is to separate and wait. According to the Texas Family Code, if no lawsuit to determine marital status is filed within two years after the separation of common-law spouses, the law presumes that there was no agreement to be married.
Practically speaking, if there are children resulting from a common-law marriage, it is better to pursue a traditional divorce.
Mike McCurley is a name partner in the Dallas family-law firm McCurley, Orsinger, McCurley, Nelson & Downing. He has been a divorce lawyer for more than 25 years and is a past-president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.