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Published: 2008-03-26

Common Law Marriage in Texas



To have a common law marriage in Texas, you must do three things:

(1) have an agreement to be married
(2) hold yourself out to a third party as being married, and
(3) live together

Remember, while common law marriage in Texas has the same legal status as a ceremonial marriage, you have to get a formal divorce with either common law or ceremonial marriage.

There are child support guidelines in Texas based generally on the net resources of the obligor (paying parent):

  • 1 child
  • 20% of obligor's net resources
  • 2 children
  • 25% of obligor's net resources
  • 3 children
  • 30% of obligor's net resources
  • 4 children
  • 35% of obligor's net resources
  • 5 children
  • 40% of obligor's net resources
  • 6+ children
  • Not less than the amount for 5 children

"Net resources" is defined under Texas law as all wages and salary income, including commissions, overtime pay, tips and bonuses, interest, dividends, royalty income, any net rental income plus other forms of income including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities and several other types of benefits and income.

From these resources are deducted federal income taxes, social security taxes, union dues, children's health insurance costs, to arrive at NET RESOURCES AGAINST WHICH ABOVE PERCENTAGES ARE APPLIED on the number of children for whom support is to be paid.

The grounds for divorce in Texas are:

  • 1
  • insupportably - divorce is granted without regard to fault if marriage is insupportable with no reasonable expectancy of a reconciliation
  • 2
  • cruelty (mental or physical)
  • 3
  • adultery
  • 4
  • conviction of a felony if conviction was for at least 1 year and not based on testimony of spouse seeking divorce
  • 5
  • abandonment (everyone has to separate and get a divorce - abandonment is where a spouse disappears for at least a year and obviously does not want to be found)
  • 6
  • living apart - no cohabitation for at least 3 years; and
  • 7
  • confinement in a mental hospital - 3 years confinement and probability of future mental problems

Thus, Texas has seven (7) grounds for divorce and they are either a ground alleging "fault" or "no fault". The importance here is that a spouse who alleges and proves a "fault" reason for divorce can seek a disproportionate (over 1/2) share of community property.