Once an informal (common law) marriage is established, it has the same legal and binding effect as any valid formal or ceremonial marriage. Usually, the issue of common law marriage is raised by a person filing for divorce who wishes to establish a marriage for the purpose of receiving a share of the community property from the marriage. Common law marriage can also be an issue in other areas of law, such as a wrongful death lawsuit or probate proceedings. In the case of divorce, the party in control of the major assets should definitely consult with a divorce lawyer to determine whether a divorce proceeding is even necessary or the best course to take. In some cases it might be best to just walk away from the relationship and see if the other person files a lawsuit before the second anniversary of the separation. In other situations it might be best to address the issue right away to preclude a future claim that any assets you acquire after the separation are community property.
Contact us today to speak with a Houston divorce attorney to learn more about common law marriage and property division laws in the state of Texas.