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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law


Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Retired Founding Attorney

Location:

    Energy Corridor:
        14780 Memorial Dr, Ste 103
        Houston, Texas 77079



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What is "Common Law" Marriage?

By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus


A man and woman who sign and register an official document of marriage at the county clerk's office enter into an informal marriage.  This is different from a noraml formal marriage in which a marriage license is obtained.

A "common law marriage" occurs when a man and woman agree to be married, live together in Texas as "husband and wife" and represent to others that they are married.

Examples of such "representation":

  • filing as "married" on your income taxes
  • applying for health insurance for your "spouse"
  • acting as if "married" on your frequent flyer miles program
  • applying as if "married" on an apartment lease, home mortgage or loan application
  • introducing your partner to others as your "husband" or "wife."

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list -- just some examples!

Both parties have to be at least 18 years of age.  Living together does not create a common law marriage by itself!

There is no minimum time period that a couple needs to live together, though, to be considered common law married if they have also agreed to be married and represented themselves as "married" to others.  If you introduce someone as your "fiance," that makes it clear that you do not considered yourself already married.

If a couple is common law married, they need a divorce just like a regular, married couple.  The exception is if they have separated and have lived apart for more than two years.  Then, in some cases, a divorce is not necessary.  You should speak to an attorney to discuss your particular case circumstances.

While you do not need "fault" grounds to get divorced in Texas, some divorces are also granted on fault grounds.

Again, an attorney can help you analyze the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing an "at fault" divorce and help you decide which way to proceed.

While, generally speaking, my firm supports and promotes couples working out their differences amicably, I also recognize that there are circumstances in which this is not in my client's best interest and I would, therefore, proceed to pursue every available remedy under the law!

Also, I often represent clients whose spouses have chosen the "at fault" route, and, of course, I will fight hard to protect the rights of my clients in these situations!!!!  

Feel free to call me at 281.550.6650 for a free divorce consultation so that I can discuss all of your options and help you decide which way to proceed!

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