Typically, married couples have gone through the process of obtaining a marriage license and exchanging vows before a person who is authorized to marry people. Not all parties who consider themselves married have gone through the formalities of a ceremonial marriage, though, and some states, like Texas, recognize them as married regardless. Like any other married couple, a couple in a common-law marriage can decide they no longer want to be together, but merely because they did not have a formal wedding does not mean they can simply end their relationship by walking away from one another without formally divorcing. Instead, they must obtain an informal-marriage divorce. Dissolving an informal union can be complicated and contentious, and it is smart for anyone who wishes to end a common-law marriage to retain a capable attorney. At McClure Law Group, our skillful Dallas divorce attorneys are adept at helping people end their marriages, and if we represent you, we will fight to help you protect your interests.What Is an Informal Marriage?
In Texas, there is very little legal distinction between a formal and informal or common-law marriage. When an individual files a petition for an informal-marriage divorce, though, they may encounter issues proving that a marriage existed, especially if their purported spouse denies that they were married. The Texas Family Code sets forth the requirements for proving an informal marriage. Specifically, it states that an informal marriage can be proven by evidence that the parties agreed to be married and, after the agreement, lived together in Texas as husband and wife and represented to others here that they were married. In the alternative, informally married couples can also sign a declaration of informal marriage. Only people who are eighteen or older and who are not presently married to anyone else can enter into an informal marriage.The Process of Seeking an Informal-Marriage Divorce
If a party that did not sign a declaration of informal marriage wants to seek an informal-marriage divorce, they should do so before the second anniversary of when they stopped living with their common-law spouse. If they do not, there is a rebuttable presumption that the parties did not enter into an agreement to be married. Once a party establishes the existence of an informal marriage, however, the process of obtaining a dissolution is generally the same as in a formalized marriage. In other words, they may seek a no-fault or fault-based divorce and can request a just and right division of marital property, spousal support, and child support.
The process of dividing marital property (called “community property” in Texas) in an informal-divorce action can be complicated. Under Texas law, any property either party obtains during the course of a marriage is considered community property unless proven otherwise, which means that it belongs to both parties and, therefore, is subject to a just and right division by the courts. While in traditional marriages, there is a clearly defined date as to when the marriage began, and it is relatively easy to determine what constitutes community property, in informal marriages, the parties may disagree as to when the marriage started, which can impact property rights. Evidence such as when a couple obtained jointly owned property or began sharing a bank account and any documentation of when they started to refer to themselves as married can help prove when an informal marriage actually began and when community property began accumulating.Consult a Dedicated Dallas Lawyer
The process of ending a marriage often has a significant emotional and financial impact, regardless of whether the marriage was formal or informal. If you have questions regarding an informal-marriage divorce, it is prudent to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The dedicated Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are adept at obtaining favorable outcomes in dissolution matters, and if you hire us, we will work diligently to help you seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. We regularly assist people in divorce matters in Dallas, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, Fort Worth, Richardson, Rockwall, and Garland. We also aid people in other family-law matters in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us through our online form or by calling 214.692.8200 to schedule a conference.