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Common Law Marriage

This legal research guide provides information about common law marriage in Texas, including links to the relevant statutes and to information written in “plain English.”

Research from Home

If you have a library account in good standing, you can check out an OverDrive eBook title or access our remote databases. Don't have a library account? Texas residents can register for a library account from home! Learn more about how to register from home.

Below is an eBook title that may help you with your research on common law marriage.

Resources at the State Law Library

Below are some of the library resources that can provide further guidance on this topic. The Texas State Law Library has many other resources in addition to the highlights we present below. Please call us at (512) 463-1722 if you have any questions about these materials.

Introduction to Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage, also known as marriage without formalities or informal marriage, is a valid and legal way for a couple to marry in Texas. There are three elements of a common law marriage according to Texas law. Per Chapter 2.401 of the Texas Family Code, you must have all three parts in order to have a common law marriage.

  1. You have "agreed to be married."
  2. You have "lived together in this state as husband and wife."
  3. You have "represented to others" that you are married.

Texas Law

Below you will find references to areas of the Texas Family Code which govern common law marriage and issues related to marriage. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, you may want to look at the "plain English" resources on this page or speak to an attorney.

Explained in "Plain English"

Because Texas and federal law may not be easy to understand, below you'll find a collection of resources that help to explain the law in "plain English."

Legal Research Guides from the Texas State Law Library

The Texas State Law Library reference librarians have compiled legal research guides for specific areas of the law. These guides contain resources that can help you research a legal issue. The American Association of Law Libraries has a guide for Non-Lawyers on How to Research a Legal Problem [PDF]. If you have any questions, please contact us at (512) 463-1722 or at


The information provided on this page has been prepared for general information purposes only and should not be construed as, nor substituted for, legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney for advice specific to your fact situation. Your local bar association or the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (1-800-252-9690) can assist you with locating an attorney.

Some of the electronic resources we refer to in this guide may be in PDF format. Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view PDFs.

Ask a Librarian

If you need help with a reference question, you may ask a librarian...

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  PO Box 12367, Austin, TX 78711-2367