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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


Common Law Marriage in Texas

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. Texas law states that a common law marriage may be proved by evidence that the couple:

See the resources below to learn more about common law marriage in Texas.

Common Law Marriage for Texas Inmates

For those who are currently incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and have not declared their common law marriage with the county clerk, both the incarcerated person and the common-law spouse may submit to the warden an Affidavit of Informal Marriage form declaring the marriage. The incarcerated person 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.