How long do a man and a woman live together before they are considered common law married in Dallas, Texas?
The elements of common law marriage in Texas are substantially similar to those of all common law jurisdictions that recognize the concept. There is no specific time limit. You could be common law married in a day, or cohabit for a decade and having children together, and not be common law married. You must:
Agree to be married.
Reside in the state of Texas.
Represent themselves to others as husband and wife in Texas.
A common law marriage that comes into being in Texas will generally be recognized in every state, including those that do not recognize common law marriage.
Texas does have one twist in the doctrine which is called "informal marriage" in Texas:
You can also take steps to make your informal marriage “official” by filing a declaration and registration of informal marriage at your Texas county clerk’s office. If you have questions on how to make it “official” in Texas, reach out to a top family lawyer in Dallas or the county where you reside for advice.
The relevant Texas statue (mostly enacted in 1997 and last amended in 2009, but b based upon prior Texas law) states:
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.
(d) A person may not be a party to an informal marriage or execute a declaration of an informal marriage if the person is presently married to a person who is not the other party to the informal marriage or declaration of an informal marriage, as applicable.
Sec. 2.402. DECLARATION AND REGISTRATION OF INFORMAL MARRIAGE. (a) A declaration of informal marriage must be signed on a form prescribed by the bureau of vital statistics and provided by the county clerk. Each party to the declaration shall provide the information required in the form.
(b) The declaration form must contain:
(1) a heading entitled "Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage, ___________ County, Texas";
(2) spaces for each party's full name, including the woman's maiden surname, address, date of birth, place of birth, including city, county, and state, and social security number, if any;
(3) a space for indicating the type of document tendered by each party as proof of age and identity;
(4) printed boxes for each party to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "The other party is not related to me as:
(A) an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption;
(B) a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(C) a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(D) a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(E) a current or former stepchild or stepparent; or
(F) a son or daughter of a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption.";
(5) a printed declaration and oath reading: "I SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ARE MARRIED TO EACH OTHER BY VIRTUE OF THE FOLLOWING FACTS: ON OR ABOUT (DATE) WE AGREED TO BE MARRIED, AND AFTER THAT DATE WE LIVED TOGETHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE AND IN THIS STATE WE REPRESENTED TO OTHERS THAT WE WERE MARRIED. SINCE THE DATE OF MARRIAGE TO THE OTHER PARTY I HAVE NOT BEEN MARRIED TO ANY OTHER PERSON. THIS DECLARATION IS TRUE AND THE INFORMATION IN IT WHICH I HAVE GIVEN IS CORRECT.";
(6) spaces immediately below the printed declaration and oath for the parties' signatures; and
(7) a certificate of the county clerk that the parties made the declaration and oath and the place and date it was made.
Sec. 2.403. PROOF OF IDENTITY AND AGE; OFFENSE. (a) The county clerk shall require proof of the identity and age of each party to the declaration of informal marriage to be established by a document listed in Section 2.005(b).
(b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly provides false, fraudulent, or otherwise inaccurate proof of the person's identity or age under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
Sec. 2.404. RECORDING OF CERTIFICATE OR DECLARATION OF INFORMAL MARRIAGE. (a) The county clerk shall:
(1) determine that all necessary information is recorded on the declaration of informal marriage form and that all necessary documents are submitted to the clerk;
(2) administer the oath to each party to the declaration;
(3) have each party sign the declaration in the clerk's presence; and
(4) execute the clerk's certificate to the declaration.
(a-1) On the proper execution of the declaration, the clerk may:
(1) prepare a certificate of informal marriage;
(2) enter on the certificate the names of the persons declaring their informal marriage and the date the certificate or declaration is issued; and
(3) record the time at which the certificate or declaration is issued.
(b) The county clerk may not certify the declaration or issue or record the certificate of informal marriage or declaration if:
(1) either party fails to supply any information or provide any document required by this subchapter;
(2) either party is under 18 years of age; or
(3) either party checks "false" in response to the statement of relationship to the other party.
(c) On execution of the declaration, the county clerk shall record the declaration or certificate of informal marriage, deliver the original of the declaration to the parties, deliver the original of the certificate of informal marriage to the parties, if a certificate was prepared, and send a copy of the declaration of informal marriage to the bureau of vital statistics.
(d) An executed declaration or a certificate of informal marriage recorded as provided in this section is prima facie evidence of the marriage of the parties.
(e) At the time the parties sign the declaration, the clerk shall distribute to each party printed materials about acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The clerk shall note on the declaration that the distribution was made. The materials shall be prepared and provided to the clerk by the Texas Department of Health and shall be designed to inform the parties about:
(1) the incidence and mode of transmission of AIDS and HIV;
(2) the local availability of medical procedures, including voluntary testing, designed to show or help show whether a person has AIDS or HIV infection, antibodies to HIV, or infection with any other probable causative agent of AIDS; and
(3) available and appropriate counseling services regarding AIDS and HIV infection.
Sec. 2.405. VIOLATION BY COUNTY CLERK; PENALTY. A county clerk or deputy county clerk who violates this subchapter commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500.