How Do You Prove Common Law Marriage in Texas After Death?
In the state of Texas, common law marriage, also known as informal marriage, is recognized as a legally binding union between two individuals who have lived together and presented themselves as married without actually obtaining a marriage license or going through a formal ceremony. However, proving a common law marriage after the death of one partner can be a complex and challenging process. This article aims to provide guidance on how to establish common law marriage in Texas after death and addresses some common questions related to this subject.
To prove the existence of a common law marriage in Texas after death, certain key elements must be established:
1. Cohabitation: The couple must have lived together as spouses in the same residence.
2. Agreement to be married: Both individuals must have agreed to be married in Texas.
3. Representation as married: They must have presented themselves as married to others, such as introducing each other as spouses or filing joint tax returns.
4. Holding out: They must have “held out” to the public that they were married, meaning they portrayed themselves as a married couple.
To establish a common law marriage after the death of a partner, the surviving individual can provide evidence such as:
5. Joint bank accounts: If the couple had joint bank accounts, it can serve as evidence of their intent to be married.
6. Joint property ownership: Owning property together, such as a house or a vehicle, can help establish a common law marriage.
7. Joint credit accounts: Having joint credit accounts or loans can demonstrate the couple’s intent to be married.
8. Witness statements: Testimonies from friends, family members, or acquaintances who witnessed the couple’s relationship can be valuable evidence.
9. Insurance beneficiaries: Designating each other as beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts can indicate the couple’s intent to be married.
10. Affidavits: Sworn affidavits from individuals who knew the couple and can attest to their common law marriage can be submitted as evidence.
Now, let’s address some common questions related to proving common law marriage in Texas after death:
Q1. Can I claim my deceased partner’s assets if we were in a common law marriage?
A1. Yes, if you can prove that you were in a common law marriage, you may be entitled to claim your deceased partner’s assets, including property and financial accounts.
Q2. How long do we need to live together to establish a common law marriage?
A2. There is no specific duration required to establish a common law marriage in Texas. The key factor is whether the couple intended to be married and presented themselves as such.
Q3. Can I prove a common law marriage through text messages or emails?
A3. While text messages and emails may support your claim, they are not sufficient on their own. Additional evidence, such as joint financial accounts or witness testimonies, is typically required.
Q4. Can I claim Social Security benefits if we were in a common law marriage?
A4. Yes, if you can prove your common law marriage, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse.
Q5. Can we have a common law marriage if we live in separate residences?
A5. No, cohabitation is a crucial element for establishing a common law marriage. Living in separate residences typically does not meet this requirement.
Q6. Can we establish a common law marriage if we were married in another state and moved to Texas?
A6. If your marriage was legally recognized in the state where it occurred, Texas will recognize it as a valid marriage, regardless of whether it was a common law or formal marriage.
Q7. Can we establish a common law marriage if one partner is underage?
A7. No, both individuals must be at least 18 years old to enter into a common law marriage in Texas.
Q8. Can I inherit property if we were in a common law marriage?
A8. If you can establish your common law marriage, you may have the same inheritance rights as formally married individuals.
Q9. Can we divorce if we were in a common law marriage?
A9. Yes, you can dissolve a common law marriage through a legal process similar to a formal divorce.
Q10. Can we establish a common law marriage if we have children together?
A10. Having children together is not a legal requirement for a common law marriage. However, it may serve as supporting evidence.
Q11. Can I claim my deceased partner’s pension if we were in a common law marriage?
A11. If you can prove your common law marriage, you may be entitled to claim your deceased partner’s pension benefits.
Q12. Can we establish a common law marriage if we never publicly presented ourselves as married?
A12. While public representation as a married couple is a crucial element, it is not the sole determinant. Other evidence, such as joint accounts or property ownership, can help establish a common law marriage even without public representation.
It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney if you are attempting to prove a common law marriage after the death of a partner in Texas. They can guide you through the process and help gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.