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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.”

General Information

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.

Section 2.401 of the Texas Family Code states that a common law marriage may be proved by evidence that the couple:

Texas Law

Below you will find references to areas of the Texas Family Code that 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."

Common Law Marriage for Inmates in Texas

For offenders within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice who have not declared their common law marriage with the county clerk, both the offender and the common-law spouse may submit to the warden an Affidavit of Informal Marriage form declaring the marriage. The inmate may file an unsworn affidavit while the spouse must have their affidavit certified by a notary.

See the TDCJ Visitation policy below for more information on proving a common law marriage for contact visits.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice does not have a sample affidavit available online. We recommend contacting the inmate's unit for more information on filing this affidavit.

E-Books Available from the Texas State Law Library

These e-books contain information on issues related to common law marriage. These e-books can be viewed by those who have signed up for a free library account with the State Law Library. Only Texas residents are eligible to sign up. Signing up is free.

Books at the Texas State Law Library

These print books at the State Law Library contain information on issues related to common law marriage. If you are not able to visit the State Law Library in Austin, these books might be available at a law library near you or a public library near you.