Misconceptions About Common Law Marriages

There are a lot of questions, and there are equally as many misunderstandings about the nature of common-law marriages. The first being the length of time it takes to establish one. Other questions that stem from common-law marriages are whether they are different from a traditional marriage. This extends out to how they can be dissolved. For instance, does the divorce process for a standard marriage also apply to end a common-law one?

A Common-Law Marriage

First, let’s establish what a common-law marriage is. It is a marriage that exists without the formalities of traditional marriage. Specifically, there is no marriage license. Typically, a couple will get a marriage license before the marriage ceremony. In regards to common-law marriage, there will not be a license nor a ceremony. However, certain conditions will exist:

  1. Both people agree that they are married.
  2. They live together as a married couple.
  3. They tell others that they are married.
  4. Both people are of sound mind and are at least 18 years old.
  5. They cannot be married to other people.

To dispel a myth right now, in Texas there is no specific time required to establish a common-law marriage, nor do you automatically become married at some point. If you live with someone, and the two of you do not claim to be married, then you will not unwillingly be entered into a common-law marriage.


The rights of two people in a common-law marriage can be the same as two people who have been formally married. The biggest determinant of these rights is whether your state recognizes common-law marriages. Texas, for example, does. 

If your work offers you health insurance benefits, you can apply them to your common-law spouse. Some of the other very important benefits are child custody, spousal support, and rights to property and assets acquitted during the common-law marriage.


After reading this, you may be wondering why you just don’t go ahead and forego the traditional marriage and choose a common-law one. Here’s something to consider: when you look over the requirements to establish a common-law marriage, you will see none of them require documentation. Even living together won’t guarantee a paper trail. Perhaps one person owns a house and the other moves in. 

Just because a common-law couple has the same rights, that doesn’t make them any easier to obtain. To get spousal support, child custody, or the rights to acquired assets, you will have to prove you are actually in a common-law marriage. A marriage certificate could make getting all of these things significantly easier.  

Lastly, in Texas, a divorce is required to dissolve a common-law marriage.

Ask Our Attorney about Your Common Law Marriage Rights

Regardless of whether you chose to pursue a common-law marriage or a traditional one, we can offer you our legal counseling if you are planning on divorcing. Ensure that you receive what is legally yours. At Amsberry Law Firm, our family law attorneys have experience in handling divorce, child custody, adoption, and common-law marriages. Contact us to set up a no obligation phone consultation. We will go the distance for you. You deserve nothing less.

Attorney Russell Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry founded the Amsberry Law Firm in 1995 with the goal of providing clients with exceptional, focused representation on their issues. His success as a legal advocate has been reflected in the numerous professional honors he has received, such as speaking engagements and inclusion in Scene in SA magazine’s listing of the best lawyers in San Antonio, a Distinguished rating from Martindale-Hubble, and an amazing rating from Avvo. [ Attorney Bio ]

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The Amsberry Law Firm, founded in 1995, has helped thousands of clients overcome their unique legal challenges.

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