Texas is among the states that still recognize informal marriage, sometimes called “common-law marriage.” A couple may establish an informal marriage by signing a document entitled “declaration of informal marriage.” In the absence of a declaration, a party may also prove the existence of a Texas informal marriage through evidence that the couple agreed to be married, subsequently lived together as spouses in Texas, and represented to others that they were married. Tex. Fam. Code § 2.401. Although informal marriages are generally treated the same as formal marriages, the existence of an informal marriage can be far more difficult to prove.
Man Files for Divorce from Partner – No Marriage Found to Exist
A man, E.L., recently challenged a jury’s finding that he and his long-term same-sex partner, J.M., were not in an informal marriage. The parties started dating in 1997 and lived together from June 1998 until January 2017. They were not formally married, and there was no evidence they had ever filed a declaration of informal marriage. E.L. filed a lawsuit seeking a divorce from J.M. The jury found the parties were not married. E.L. appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence supporting that finding and that the evidence conclusively proved the parties were married.
The jury was asked to determine if the parties were married.