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Are you married even though you had no wedding?

If you are living with someone in Texas, you may be married to him or her whether you realize it or not. As Unmarried Equality explains, Texas is one of the nine states that recognizes common law marriage whereby certain couples who live together are just as legally married as their friends who had a wedding.

Whether or not you and your partner are in fact married depends on whether or not the two of you have held yourselves out as married. The way to determine this is by answering the following four questions:

  1. Have you told your family, friends and/or co-workers that you are married?
  2. Do you refer to each other as “my wife” and “my husband?”
  3. Do you file joint income tax returns?
  4. Do you often use the same last name?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are legally married in Texas. As an interesting aside, if you are the woman in this relationship, you do not have to legally change your last name to that of your husband. All you need do is use your husband’s last name in social situations or wherever else you choose to do so. You can retain your legal name for purposes of such things as your driver’s license, Social Security card, bank and credit card accounts, etc. You should also use your own legal name if you and your partner apply for any joint loans or a mortgage on the house you buy together.

Recognition of your marriage in other states

Since Texas validates your marriage, all other states must, too. This is because all states must recognize all other states’ legal marriages. Consequently, if you and your partner move to a state that does not recognize common law marriage on its own, it must recognize yours since Texas did. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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