In Texas, there are couples who choose not to get married through conventional means and instead have what is known as an informal marriage. This is alternatively referred to as a common-law marriage. In order for the state to consider a marriage to be valid in spite of its being informal, there must be certain factors in place. This is important to remember in the event that there are children as part of the union and the couple parts ways and family legal issues involving support arise.
The marriage can be proved if the couple does the following: declares that the marriage has been signed or if the couple has agreed to marry and, after that agreement, lived together in the state and represented themselves to others as husband and wife. If the marriage is to be proved based on the above factors and did not commence prior to the second anniversary of the date in which the parties parted ways and were cohabiting, it is generally perceived as the couple never having agreed to be married. Those under the age of 18 cannot enter into an informal marriage or declare themselves to be part of an informal marriage. A person who is legally married to another cannot be part of an informal marriage.
In a declaration of an informal marriage, there must be a heading declaring and registering the informal marriage; the parties' full names and other vital information; a space to indicate the proof of age and identity; a printed box to declare that the couple is not an ancestor, a descendent, a brother, a sister, a parent's brother or sister, a son or daughter of a brother or sister, a current or former stepchild or stepparent, or a son or daughter of a parent's brother or sister. There must also be a printed declaration regarding the validity of the informal marriage.
This is an important family law issue for couples that might face the prospect of being considered unmarried couples and have a dispute regarding property, children, support and more. To have a full understanding of informal marriage and help with any problem that might come up, speaking to a legal professional experienced in family law issues can provide insight and information.
Source: statutes.legis.tx.us, "Subchapter E. Marriage Without Formalities -- Sec. 2.401. Proof of Informal Marriage; Section 2.402. Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage," accessed on Dec. 7, 2015