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Cohabitation Laws & Agreements in Texas

What is a Common Law Marriage?

According to Texas Family Code Section 2.401, common law marriages, also known as cohabitation, is a legal way for couples who are living together to be recognized as legally married under the law. Common law marriages hold the same validity as formal marriages granted by a judge or clergy.

You may be considered to be in a common law marriage if you can prove:

  • You and your partner agreed to be married, and
  • Have lived together in Texas as husband and wife, and
  • Represented to others that you are married (such as taking a husband's last name)

Some other actions that can trigger a common law marriage for couples include:

  • Filing a joint tax return
  • Purchasing a home with both partner's names as husband and wife
  • Introducing a partner as "husband" or "wife"
  • Family members referring to you and your partner as in-laws

There is no required time period for a couple to be considered to be in a common law marriage. As long as the couple satisfies the three elements required by law, they meet the conditions for a common law marriage.

What Does a Cohabitation Agreement Cover?

For couples who have lived together for a period of time, it would be wise to create a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement allows two individuals live together with some of the same privileges afforded a legally married couple. This is a legally binding agreement and can affect many facets of your finances, including:

  • Mortgages
  • Utility Bills
  • Rental Agreements
  • Child support payments.

Like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement allows a couple to delineate their property rights in writing so that, in the event of a break up, each individual retains his / her belongings.

Are cohabitation agreements enforceable in court?

The validity of a cohabitation agreement depends on the verbiage of the contract and issues addressed in the agreement. For example, an agreement that discusses financial matters, such as rent, mortgage payments, or child custody could be enforced in court. On the other hand, some agreements could be difficult to enforce in court.

For example, an agreement may not be legally valid if one party agrees to pay for rent in exchange for companionship. Generally speaking, the court will take these contracts into consideration and only a small number of cohabitation agreements are ignored by the court.

What are the advantages of a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements can be useful for a variety of reasons. For example, Texas does not allow gay marriage, but a cohabitation agreement permits these couples some of the provisions that Texas law gives married couples.

A cohabitation agreement can help any couple handle financing issues as well. For example: Who is responsible to pay for household utilities? How will rent be divided? If we break up, who will retain the house? These are legitimate questions. With the help of a cohabitation agreement, couples can address potential conflict before it becomes a legal issue.

Need a family attorney in Dallas, Texas?

Contact Mathur Law Offices, P.C. for legal help regarding cohabitation agreements, divorce, prenuptial agreements or another divorce- or family law-related matter. When you work with our team, you can have peace of mind knowing that we will pour all of our knowledge and experience into your case, giving you the best chance of a favorable case outcome.

Call our office at (888) 867-5191 to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect From Mathur Law Offices, P.C.

  • A legal team with a wide breadth of legal knowledge
  • An emphasis on making your needs our top priority
  • Personalized, unwavering commitment to you
  • A team with unmatched experience and versatility
  • Compassionate and genuine service

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