If you are a Texas resident living with someone in a mutually committed relationship, you know that although you were never married by a clergyman or judge, you nevertheless feel just as married as your friends who had a wedding. You will be glad to know that Texas agrees with you and considers you to be legally married.
Per Unmarried Equality, Texas is one of nine states that recognizes common law marriage. In these states, you are legally married if you “hold yourself out to be married” by doing the following things:
- Telling your family, friends, etc. that you are married
- Referring to each other as “my husband” and “my wife”
- Filing joint income tax returns
- Using the same last name
If you are the woman in the relationship, you do not need to go to court and legally change your last name. You can continue to use your legal last name, the one you had when you entered into your common law marriage, on such things as your Social Security card, driver’s license, bank accounts, credit cards, etc. You also can use it on any joint tax returns you file with your common law husband and for any loans that the two of you obtain jointly. On the other hand, you may wish to use your husband’s last name in social situations.
Also be aware that Texas does not have a time requirement. You and your common law spouse do not need to live together for a specified length of time to be legally married. Your marriage takes place as soon as the two of you begin to hold yourselves out as married.
Recognition by other states
Since Texas recognizes your common law marriage, all other states will do likewise. Therefore, if the two of you move to a state that would not have recognized your marriage had you been living there when you entered into it, that state will consider you to be legally married now since you were living in Texas when you started living together. This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.