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Joseph, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  I have over a decade of experience as a Family Law litigator
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Domestic Partnership/Informal Marriage Question Texas

Resolved Question:

I live in Travis County, TX. My opposite sex partner and I are considering signing a Domestic Partnership Agreement later this year. It has been brought up, that if we later wanted to dissolve the partnership, we would have to get a regular divorce. This would be because it would basically fall under the category of "informal marriage". We're cohabiting, sharing household funds, pooled money to buy a house together, people assume we're married and we don't bother to correct them unless we know we'll see them again, etc etc. If we signed the Domestic Partnership Agreement and wanted to dissolve it, would we need a regular divorce? How would a prenup affect the situation?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.

While Texas calls it an "informal marriage", the commonly used term is "common law marriage". For an informal marriage to exist, Texas requires three things:

 

  • An agreement to be married
  • Residing together within the State of Texas
  • Holding yourselves out as a married couple

 

From what you have stated, it seems clear that you meet the second and third prong, leaving only the first prong to be determined. In the event that you separated, if one of you filed for divorce, the other could contest that there was ever an informal marriage. In that event, it would be up to the judge's discretion as to whether there was ever an agreement to be married.

 

In sum, absent a clear understanding that there will not be a marriage, this arrangement could very well lead to a requirement of a formal divorce proceeding.

 

Please let me know if anything requires clarification.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'm not sure if my reply didn't go through? If so, I appologize for writing twice.

What I really want to know is typically when an opposite sex couple in Texas wants to dissolve a Domestic Partnership agreement, is this done by means of a regular divorce? Or is this typically done by other means?

(My understanding is that informal marriage is very difficult to prove).

Thanks.
Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.

I am not aware of any statistics on that specific issue. As an attorney, I would typically only become involved if a divorce action were filed. If the couple agrees that no divorce is necessary, there would not be a need for an attorney. As such, I would only be aware of part of the equation, that being those that file a formal divorce action.

 

With that in mind, I would suggest that included some specific language on the issue in the agreement would resolve the issue for you. If you prefer to avoid the formal divorce action, you might consider including language in the agreement explicitly stating that the parties do not intend to marry. With that language, it should eliminate any belief of an informal marriage and, as such, any need for a divorce.

 

I hope that answers the question for you. If not, please let me know.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

Joseph, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7279
Experience: I have over a decade of experience as a Family Law litigator
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