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  1. #1
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    common-law cohabitation in Texas

    Regarding a common-law marriage...What is the legal length of time a couple has to cohabitate in Texas, after making their agreement to one another to be married, in order for their common-law marriage to be valid?
  2. #2
    las365 is offline Senior Member
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    I'm not a lawyer, but if I recall correctly from when I went to paralegal school a looong time ago, the elements for a common law marriage in Texas were:

    1. Agreeing between the two of you to be married
    2. Representing to others that you are husband and wife; and
    3. Living together as husband and wife.

    I don't think there was a time element. I could easily be wrong, though.

    Why do you ask? No one can give you advice for your particular situation without context.
  3. #3
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    cohabitation

    I know that in order to have a valid common-law marriage you have to pass a three-prong test.
    (1)We signed an agreement, and (2)held out to the public as married by filing taxes together. But the Texas Family Code doesn't give a specific amount of time a couple has to live together, it just says "after the agreement they lived together in this state as husband and wife..." I've looked everywhere to find out how long you have to live together in Texas, but can't find any documents. After signing our common-law agreement, we lived in Stafford, TX. together for 4 months, vacationed for 3 months, then came back and lived in Stafford another 9 months. Is there a legal amount of time you have to live together in Texas for the common-law marriage to be valid?
    I am trying to see if I have a valid marriage, so I can determine if I should go through a divorce and have rights to alimony.
  4. #4
    Ozark_Sophist is offline Senior Member
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    What rights to alimony? Short term marriage.
  5. #5
    las365 is offline Senior Member
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    Well, if the Code does not specify a period of time that you have to cohabit to establish a common law marriage, apparently there is not one. While you are perusing the Texas Family Code, check this out:

    SUBCHAPTER B. COURT-ORDERED MAINTENANCE

    8.051. ELIGIBILITY FOR MAINTENANCE; COURT ORDER. In a suit for dissolution of a marriage or in a proceeding for maintenance in a court with personal jurisdiction over both former spouses following the dissolution of their marriage by a court that lacked personal jurisdiction over an absent spouse, the court may order maintenance for either spouse only if:
    (1) the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Title 4 and the offense occurred:
    (A) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or
    (B) while the suit is pending; or

    (2) the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code, to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054, and the spouse seeking maintenance:
    (A) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
    (B) is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be
    employed outside the home; or
    (C) clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054.

    I added the bolding. Unless your spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence during your mariage, you are apparently out of luck trying to get alimony.

    Just out of curiosity, what is contained in the agreement you signed? Does it purport to provide some sort of spousal support in the event you divorce?
  6. #6
    JETX is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by damore View Post
    Is there a legal amount of time you have to live together in Texas for the common-law marriage to be valid?
    No.

    I am trying to see if I have a valid marriage, so I can determine if I should go through a divorce and have rights to alimony.
    From your post, you ARE married and yes, you have to go through a formal divorce. As to whether you would be awarded spousal support or not.... the answer is no.
    In Texas, absent abuse conviction, you must have been married for 10 years or more to qualify.

    Texas Family Code:
    " 8.051. ELIGIBILITY FOR MAINTENANCE; COURT ORDER. In a suit for dissolution of a marriage or in a proceeding for maintenance in a court with personal jurisdiction over both former spouses following the dissolution of their marriage by a court that lacked personal jurisdiction over an absent spouse, the court may order maintenance for either spouse only if:
    (1) the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Title 4 and the offense occurred:
    (A) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or
    (B) while the suit is pending; or

    (2) the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code, to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054, and the spouse seeking maintenance:
    (A) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
    (B) is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking
    into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or
    (C) clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054."
  7. #7
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    Texas law or Colorado law

    Thank you for your replies. I appreciate the help. I understand the law about alimony in Texas. I am getting a divorce in Colorado, so do the laws regarding alimony apply from Texas or Colorado. This is what I am confused on.
    Last edited by damore; 08-19-2007 at 12:27 PM.
  8. #8
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    Short marriage

    I realize my marriage was short, only 3 years. But I helped my husband get to where he is today, and once he got fame and money he left me. I'm not trying to be greedy. I would just like what I deserve for the sacrifices I made for US when we had nothing, not knowing he was going to leave me once he got what he wanted.
  9. #9
    las365 is offline Senior Member
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    Well if he has made a bunch of money, then what you are looking for is a division of community property that you consider to be equitable under the circumstances. If he is rich and famous, you ought to be able to get a good lawyer who knows how to include every imaginable asset in the pot for dividing up.
  10. #10
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    a good attorney

    I didn't get anything we acquired during our marriage, when we separated. I literally just took my clothes and personal affects. I'm a full-time college student living off of financial aid. The problem I am facing is finding a good attorney, on a college student income. Any ideas?
  11. #11
    damore is offline Junior Member
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    Common-Law agreement

    It doesn't say anything about spousal support, that is just something an attorney that I had a consultation with said I should try to get. I now think that is unreasonable due to the duration of our marriage. I think the term for what I am entitled to is equitable division of property?
    The common-law agreement, that was signed and notarized, states:

    I and my spouse agree as follows:
    1. That we have been living together since January 2003 and plan to do so indefinetly.
    2. That while we are living together, all income earned, and all health and welfare benefits received by either person, whether real or personal, belong in equal shares to both.
    3. Should either of us inherit or be given property, it belongs absolutely to the person receiving the inheritance or gift.
    4. That the monthly expenses for rent, food, household utilities and upkeep and joint recreation shall be shared equally.
    5. That should we separate, neither has any claim for money or property except that which is incurred jointly.
    6. That this agreement replaces any and all prior agreements, whether written or oral, and can only be added to or changed by a subsequent written agreement.
    7. If a court finds any portion of this contract to be illegal or otherwise unenforceable, the remainder of the contract is still in full force.
    8. That any dispute arising out of this agreement shall be mediated by a third person mutually acceptable to both of us. The mediator's role shall be able to help us arrive at a solution, not to impose one on us. If good faith efforts to arrive at our own solution with the help of a mediator prove to be fruitless, either may make a written request to the other that the dispute be arbitrated.
    Last edited by damore; 08-20-2007 at 11:01 AM.
  12. #12
    majomom1 is offline Senior Member
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    I was looking at this topic just the other day and found this site:

    [url]http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/commonlaw.htm[/url]

    Item 6 is: Texas calls it an "informal marriage," rather than a common-law marriage. Under 2.401 of the Texas Family Code, an informal marriage can be established either by declaration (registering at the county courthouse without having a ceremony), or by meeting a 3-prong test showing evidence of (1) an agreement to be married; (2) cohabitation in Texas; and (3) representation to others that the parties are married. A 1995 update adds an evidentiary presumption that there was no marriage if no suit for proof of marriage is filed within two years of the date the parties separated and ceased living together.

    It also states way down at the bottom: There is no such thing as common-law divorce. Once parties are married, regardless of the manner in which their marriage is contracted, they are married and can only be divorced by appropriate means in the place where the divorce is granted. That means, in all 50 states, only by a court order

    So... you would have to follow CO rules for divorce/property/support etc...

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