Texas recognizes an informal marriage, or what is often called a common law marriage, in very limited circumstances. Simply living together, sharing a residence, or even having children together is not enough to create to a common law marriage, regardless of how long you have been a couple.
Several specific factors must be met in order to create an informal marriage under the Texas Family Code:
1. A man and a woman, neither of whom are married to anyone else and who are over the age of eighteen,
2. must agree to be married,
3. must live together in the state of Texas,
4. and must represent themselves as a married couple to others in Texas.
If all of these factors are not fulfilled a common law marriage has not occurred. Often, one or more of these factors are missing. For example, the parties may live together and occasionally tell people that they are husband and wife, but if they have never agreed to be married, then an informal marriage has not occurred. Sometimes parties agree to be married in the future, then a common law marriage has not occurred. Sometimes the parties have only told people who live outside of Texas that they are married, for example parents who reside out of state. In this case, a common law marriage has not occurred.
If your relationship meets all of the requirements of a common law marriage in Texas, then it will be treated like a formalized marriage for the purposes of a divorce. If that is the case, it is important to contact an experienced divorce attorney, who will help protect your interests.