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What Rights Do Couples in Informal Marriages Receive?

Most states in the U.S. do not recognize informal marriage; however, Texas is one of 10 states that does consider informal marriage to be valid.

In Texas, to be considered informally married, a couple must:

  • agree they are married;
  • reside in the state of Texas;
  • represent themselves to the public as a committed couple; and
  • file a declaration and registration of informal marriage at a county clerk’s office.

Contrary to popular belief, a couple doesn’t need to be cohabitating for a specific number of years. The only things a couple needs to prove they are informally married are the criteria listed above.

Once a couple establishes an informal marriage, they receive every right and benefit a formally married couple receives.

Formal Divorce

If the informal marriage doesn’t work out and a couple would like to dissolve the arrangement, they must go through the same channels as formally married couples do.

There are 7 grounds for divorce in Texas, which are:

  1. Irreconcilable differences: granted without fault if the marriage is no longer sustainable due to disagreements or differences that can’t be resolved
  2. Cruelty: either party is mentally or physically cruel to the other
  3. Adultery: one or both persons committed adultery
  4. Felony conviction: if a spouse has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned for at least 1 year and has not been pardoned, the other spouse can pursue divorce
  5. Abandonment: if a spouse left and remained away for at least 1 year, it’s considered abandonment
  6. Living apart: the couple has lived apart (without cohabitation) for at least 3 years
  7. Confinement in a mental hospital: one spouse has been confined in a mental hospital for at least 3 years and there’s no sign of the mental disorder improving

If there are children from the marriage, one spouse may be required to pay child support.

The court could require one or both parents to provide medical and child support until:

  • child turns 18 or graduates from high school;
  • child is emancipated; or
  • child passes away.

If the child is mentally or physically disabled, support payments may last for the rest of their life.

Representing Couples in an Informal Marriage

If you and your spouse are having trouble with recognition of your informal marriage, our attorneys can help. We offer strong, passionate representation for any family law problem you may have.

Contact our firm online or call us at (281) 612-5443 for your case evaluation.