A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 26, 2007
Marriage Without Formalities (Common Law Marriage)

Texas recognizes common law marriage, called “marriage without formalities.” If two people live together and hold themselves out to be married, it is possible that they will be recognized as married in Texas.

The law might have made sense in frontier days, but now it’s usually best to go with “formalities” and to avoid extensive legal formalities later.


Texarkana Gazette
Laughable Laws
Thursday, January 25, 2007 9:19 AM CST
Bizarre rules often remain part of many states’ regulations
By BRANDY S. CHEWNING
Texarkana Gazette
(...)
In Texas, you can also be legally married by introducing someone as your spouse.

“Texas recognizes a type of marriage referred to as ‘marriage without formalities,’” said Ross Peavey, an assistant of state Rep. Stephen Frost, D-Atlanta. The requirements for this arrangement are for the couple to have “agreed to be married, have represented to others that you were married, and have lived together in (Texas) as husband and wife.”

A representation of marriage can be as simple as filing joint income tax returns.

Law Offices of Raggio & Raggio (Dallas, TX)
Common Law Marriage
Texas is one of the very few states that recognizes a common law marriage, or more precisely, a marriage without formalities.  Even though the Statutory framework for such a marriage appears to be quite simple and straightfoward: either properly file a proper Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage; or prove in Court that a man and woman 1) agreed to be married, 2) after that agreement lived together in Texas as husband and wife, and 3) represented to others that they were married. In reality, proof of a common law marriage (or the denial of a common law marriage) is very tricky, fact-intensive, and is NOT something a lay person should even think about without adequate legal representation.  By the way, “if you snooze you lose,” as there is a statutory time limit for instituting the lawsuit to prove the alleged common law marriage.

Texas Family Code
Family Code Provision Change Bill Sec.
Sec. 2.401 amended SB 6 4.12
2004 Texas Family Code
TITLE 1. THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
SUBTITLE A. MARRIAGE
CHAPTER 2. THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
SUBCHAPTER E. MARRIAGE WITHOUT FORMALITIES
Sec. 2.401. Proof of Informal Marriage.
(a) In a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding, the marriage of a man and woman may be proved by evidence that:
(1) a declaration of their marriage has been signed as provided by this subchapter; or
(2) the man and woman agreed to be married and after the agreement they lived together in this state as husband and wife and there represented to others that they were married.
(b) If a proceeding in which a marriage is to be proved as provided by Subsection (a)(2) is not commenced before the second anniversary of the date on which the parties separated and ceased living together, it is rebuttably presumed that the parties did not enter into an agreement to be married.
(c) A person under 18 years of age may not:
(1) be a party to an informal marriage; or
(2) execute a declaration of informal marriage under Section 2.402.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1362, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, January 26, 2007 • Permalink