If you're like me, then you've heard that if a couple lives together for long enough, they are basically common law married. This CAN be true, but requires some further steps. Let me explain.

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In Texas, it's not just happenstance that a couple will qualify as common law married. Both parties must formally sign a declaration of informal marriage with the county clerk. Texas Statutes also require that both parties are not related to eachother... gross, that both parties are over the age of 18, and that either is not currently married to or in a relationship with another.

Currently, Texas is a part of 15 states that recognize common law marriages as binding (in one way or another) as if you were to have a marriage license. Here's the kicker: in order to dissolve the informal marriage you still need to file for divorce.

Just because you may live in a state that does not recognize informal marriages doesn't mean it's out of the question. There's a loophole which allows you to spend some time in a state that does recognize common law marriage, then declare your marriage in said state before moving back. This is because marriage in one state is valid in every other state, according to federal law.

As far as inheritance is concerned, it's all fair game. Common law spouses are afforded all rights of inheritance as traditional spouses. This also applies to debts racked up by one or both spouses IF the debt was jointly undertaken for the benefit of the marriage. Nolo.com has good coverage on how income is shared between common law spouses.

Keep reading for further info on common law marriages in the country.

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