I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.
There are three requirements for creating a common law marriage in Texas, which are set out in Tex. Fam. Code, Section 2.401.
- The parties make a promise to become spouses at that moment (not at some future date, like with an engagement).
- The parties live together as spouses after making that agreement, and
- The parties hold themselves out to the community as spouses.
Contrary to popular belief, two people cannot become common law married simply by living together for an extended period of time. The exchange of promises is key, because marriage is a contract that requires the consent of both spouses. If you believe you meet those three requirements, then you would have a claim to half the equity in the house - but only if you file for divorce. There's no such thing as common law divorce, so you'd have to file to dissolve your relationship. Courts won't get involved in financial disagreements between spouses while they are still married.
Without that agreement, I'm sorry to say that you do not have any legal claim to the property or the proceeds of the sale unless the two of you entered a contract at some point. All payments made toward the house in her name while you were living there (and all the other money spent on the relationship over the years) are treated as either gifts to her or as rent, which means there's no legal right to get any part of the money back.
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