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Attorney2, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7226
Experience:  29 Years Experience in Family Law
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My mother passeda, My mother passed away in 1996 in Houston,

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My mother passeda
JA: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: My mother passed away in 1996 in Houston, Texas. At the time of her death, my father had an on-going relationship for many years with a woman and they had two children prior to my mother's death. About a year or so after my mother's death, I asked my dad whether or not he had married the woman who's children he had fathered. He replied that they did get married but would not give me the date of their marriage. If, in fact, they did not get what I call "officially married" or are, in fact, in a common law marriage situation, how can I find out one way or the other?
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: I can't find out. If they are legally married in the true sense of the word, I need to provide the specific date (day/month/year) of the marriage to the Harris County Clerk's office to get the filing/reported information and he won't give me that information.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No. Thanks.

Welcome to JA and thank you for your question. I will be the Attorney that will be assisting you.

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What is your concern with regard to these children?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I have absolutely no concern about these two children as they are now adults.. My interest is merely whether or not my father is "officially" married to this woman or in a common law situation. If he is "officially" married to her, why didn't he tell me the date they were married? If he's in a common law marriage, fine. I just want to know one way or the other.

Thank you for the clarification.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I have no other information to provide and merely want the answer to my question.

These are the requirements to have a common law marriage in Texas:

"A valid common law marriage in Texas is where a man and woman become husband and wife without getting a marriage license and having a marriage ceremony. Once established, a common law marriage has the same legal effect as a ceremonial marriage.

Under Texas law, to have a common law marriage, you must do three things:

(1) Agree to be married
(2) Live together as husband and wife, and
(3) Told others (hold yourselves out) that you are married

In What Ways Do People “Hold Themselves Out” as Married?

Simply put, by telling others that they are married. Examples of telling other people you are married include:

• Introducing yourselves as a married couple; or
• Doing something that made people think you were married, like signing credit applications as a married couple.

Even if you said that you were married only one time, you can meet this requirement."

This link sets out the requirements as well

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
do you think there is an "official marriage license" on file, or, in your expert opinion, do they have a common law marriage?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Are they living common law?

A common law marriage can be registered as well as unregistered so there may be no official paperwork.


You may establish a legal informal marriage in Texas by registering the marriage with the local county court. For this, state law requires a "Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage," which lists the names of both parties to the marriage, declares that neither party is related to one another by blood or adoption, and affirms the parties agreed to be married to one another as of a certain date, lived together and held themselves out to the public as husband and wife. The parties must sign the declaration and take an oath before the clerk of court.

Unregistered Common Law Marriages

If a Texas informal marriage is not registered, the couple may still have it legally recognized. The couple must meet three basic requirements: both parties must agree to the marriage, live together in the state as husband and wife, and hold themselves out to the public as a married couple. The representation of an informal marriage to others can be proven by witnessed statements, signed contracts or lease agreements, or by filing a joint tax return."

If it is unregistered and it meets the above requirements it is a common law marriage.

You may also find this information helpful:


If a couple in an informal marriage decides to separate and later file for divorce, either spouse must prove the validity of the informal marriage within two years of the separation. If the couple does not meet this deadline, state law presumes the informal marriage never existed. As a result, a legal divorce, and the protection of property and rights that divorce laws afford former spouses, becomes unavailable to the couple unless they can overcome this presumption. This provision of Texas law applies to couples that separated after September 1, 1989."

This is the law that governs


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