Family Law 101|Am I Common Law Married? If so, Do I Have to Get Divorced?

No doubt you’ve heard this misconception - If you live together with someone X number of years, you’re common-law married in Texas. Truth is, that is flat wrong. To be common-law married or informally married (as it’s referred to in the Texas Family Code), you must satisfy three distinct elements: 1) you had an agreement to be married (can be inferred), 2) you lived together as a married couple, and 3) you “held yourselves out” as married. The cases usually turn on the “held yourself out” piece. So, if you’re living with someone you call husband/wife, you’ve filed taxes as a married couple, and you’re listed as a spouse on the other person’s insurance — you’re likely informally married. And that’s a big deal because informal marriages are treated the same as “regular” marriages in Texas. If want to end it - you have to get “regular" (mostly) divorced. It doesn’t just dissolve or go away when you break up. You’ll have to go through the court process, handle the division of community property, could be subject to spousal maintenance obligations - the list goes on.