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McKinney Family Lawyers Helping You With Your Common Law Marriage Divorce

In Texas, a common law marriage (also known as an “informal marriage”) has the same legally-binding effect as a formal marriage consummated by the exchange of vows and execution of a marriage certificate. As a result, ending a common law marriage requires a formal divorce – even if your marriage has never been formally recognized by the Texas courts. Living separately and acting as though you are unmarried are not enough, despite the fact that living together and holding yourselves out as a married couple were enough to legally solidify your common law marriage.

Getting a Common Law Marriage Divorce – Step 1: Proving You are Married

Despite the limited requirements for establishing a common law marriage, in order to file for a divorce as a common law spouse, you may first need to prove that you are legally married. This can be done in a number of different ways, including through witness testimony from you, your spouse and others who are familiar with your relationship. If you and your spouse filed a Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage, this can be used to establish the legal status of your marriage as well.

Getting a Common Law Marriage Divorce – Step 2: Going through the Divorce Process

Once you establish that you are legally married, then you can proceed with working through your divorce. For most couples, this involves working toward an amicable settlement using informal negotiation sessions, mediation or the collaborative law process. While litigation will sometimes be necessary, fighting a contested divorce in front of a judge is usually a means of last resort.

During your divorce, you will need to fully address issues including:

  • Property division
  • Debt division
  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody and visitation (referred to as “conservatorship” in Texas)

In an amicable or uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will establish the terms of your divorce in a written settlement agreement. If you go to court, a district court judge will issue a binding order that prescribes you and your spouse’s respective rights and financial obligations.

Getting a Common Law Marriage Divorce – Step 3: Finalizing Your Divorce

Assuming that you and your spouse come to terms without court involvement, the final stage of your divorce will involve obtaining court approval of your settlement agreement. Once you have agreed on all aspects of your divorce, and assuming the 60-day “waiting period” has expired, you will need to present your agreement to the judge presiding over your divorce (even if you resolve your divorce amicably, you will still need to initiate the process by filing a petition in court). At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC, we can assist you in crafting a divorce settlement agreement that satisfies the requirements of Texas law, and we can help you make informed decisions so that you can feel confident in the outcome of your divorce.

Get Started Now: Contact Our McKinney Family Lawyers for a Free and Confidential Consultation

For more information about obtaining a divorce from a common law marriage, contact our offices to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with one of our experienced McKinney family lawyers in confidence, please call (214) 726-1450 or request a consultation online today.


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"After a sudden life change, I needed to get my affairs in order for my children and I. I was referred to April Nordhaus. I was greeted by Allison, who is her amazing legal Assistant. Allison always was in contact with me on any and everything. All correspondence was always done efficiently. When I came in to go over affairs with April, she made me feel comfortable and calm. These were major life decisions I had to make. I will never regret having this team on my side. Will always use them and refer them."