How long do you have to live together to be legally married in Texas?

Answered by Willian Lymon

In Texas, the duration of cohabitation is not a determining factor for establishing a legally recognized common law marriage. Unlike some other states, Texas does not have a specific time requirement that couples must live together before they can declare themselves to be in a common law marriage. Instead, the focus is on meeting certain criteria outlined in Section 2.401 of the Texas Family Code.

To be considered legally married under common law in Texas, both parties must agree to three essential elements:

1. Agreement to be married: This means that both individuals must have the intent and mutual understanding that they are entering into a marriage relationship. It is not enough to simply live together; there must be a clear and explicit agreement to be spouses.

2. Living together as spouses: The couple must cohabitate and present themselves as married to the community. This can include sharing a home, combining finances, and referring to each other as husband and wife.

3. Holding out as married: The couple must also hold themselves out to others as being married. This can involve introducing each other as spouses, filing joint tax returns, or using the same last name.

It is important to note that these elements must be present simultaneously, and simply meeting one or two of them is not sufficient to establish a common law marriage in Texas. Both parties must agree to all three elements.

The lack of a specific time requirement for cohabitation in Texas allows for flexibility in determining the existence of a common law marriage. It recognizes that the nature of relationships can vary, and the focus is more on the intent and conduct of the couple rather than the length of time they have been together.

Personal experiences may vary, but to provide a relatable example, imagine a couple who have been dating for a few years and decide to live together. After some time, they realize that they want their relationship to be legally recognized as a marriage. As long as they meet the three elements of common law marriage and can demonstrate their intent to be spouses, they could potentially declare themselves as legally married in Texas, regardless of the specific duration of their cohabitation.

Texas law does not require a specific length of time for a couple to live together before they can be considered legally married under common law. As long as both parties meet the three elements of common law marriage outlined in Section 2.401, they can establish a legally recognized marriage.