What to do if my husband says our marriage isn’t valid due to a prior “common law/informal marriage” to another woman?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What to do if my husband says our marriage isn’t valid due to a prior “common law/informal marriage” to another woman?

Is this true? I can’t find a state law to back either side.

Asked on October 17, 2015 under Family Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Texas does recognize common or informal marriages.  Three things are required:  (1) an agreement to be married, (2) a holding out (telling other people) and (3) co-habitation.  All three must be satisfied to be considered a common law marriage.  Some people declare their informal marriages by filing a document with the county clerk.  However, this is not required.  Once all of the elements are met, then it is a presumed common law marriage.  If, however, the parties split up, and then cease to live together for over two years, then it is presumed that the two never really intended to be married-- and thus, no informal marriage existed.  So... if your husband split from this woman more than two years ago, then you marriage is valid.  If you husband split from her a month or so ago and you and he just got married, then your marriage is potentially invalid, depending on whether or not he and this othe woman push the issue.  I doubt your husband will push the issue because he would then be guilty of bigamy. 

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