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Common Law Marriage   Tags: common law, divorce, informal marriage, 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.”
Last Updated: Jul 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Research from Home

If you have a TexLaw ID, you can check out an OverDrive eBook title or access our remote databases. Don't have a TexLaw ID? Texas residents can register for a TexLaw ID 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.

Cover Art
Texas family law practice and procedure - Matthew Bender
Call Number: KFT 505 F35 1997
Publication Date: 2014
Texas Family Law for the practitioner, covering Conservatorship and Guardianship, premarital agreements, divorce, custody issues, spousal support, grounds, and valuing community assets. Includes sample petitions and motions, including initial attorney-client documents, as well as references to the most current State Bar CLE materials, legal periodicals, and ALR Annotations.


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.

Cover Art
Living together - Toni Ihara; Ralph Warner; Frederick Hertz
Call Number: KF 538 I35 2008
ISBN: 1413307558
Publication Date: 2008
This self help book from Nolo Press contains some limited information about common law marriage, but provides advice and guidance for couples wishing to live together without a formal marriage. Remote access to chapters from the current edition is available from the Legal Reference Center Database. See Electronic Databases for access.

Cover Art
Marriage and divorce - Margaret Jasper
Call Number: KF 510 Z9 J37 2008
ISBN: 0314605258
Publication Date: 2008
This title provides an excellent overview of marriage law and history.

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.

  • Texas Family Code ch. 2 subchapter E
    This section of the Texas Family Code, "Marriage Without Formalities," states the requirements for a common law marriage and the process for legally declaring one.

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. 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.

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