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Common Law Divorce and How It Affects Child Custody


In Texas, you do not need a marriage ceremony or engagement rings to get married. There is something called a “common law marriage” where a couple is recognized as married without a marriage license or ceremony. A common law marriage carries the exact same legal effect as a traditional marriage with a ceremony. 

Requirements to Qualify for a Common Law Marriage

According to Texas law, there are three requirements to have a valid common law marriage:

  1. The parties agreed to be married without any coercion;
  2. The parties have been living together as a married couple; and
  3. The parties hold themselves out as married.

No Difference in Legal Rights

Some people mistakenly believe that a common law marriage is easier to end because there is no official marriage license that could be entered into evidence in court. This is not true. Under Texas law, there is very little difference between a ceremonial marriage and a common law marriage. This means that if a couple decides to end a common law marriage, a court will typically treat the case the same as a couple seeking divorce after a ceremonial marriage. Therefore, issues such as child custody are treated the same as in a ceremonial marriage divorce. 

Best Interests of the Child

When it comes to child custody agreements and child support, courts will place great emphasis on the best interests of the child. This means that if one parent can produce evidence showing that they can provide a healthy and stable living situation for the child, the court will often award that parent primary custody. The other parent will still retain the right to partial custody or visitation, with the exception of situations where the non-custodial parent poses a threat to the well-being of the child, or children. 

Child Custody Agreement

To protect your rights as a parent and ensure your child’s best interests are kept as the central focus, it makes sense to take the issue to the court so an official child custody agreement is created and entered into the record. This is where a Houston child custody lawyer can provide tremendous assistance to you and your family. An experienced lawyer can assist you in negotiating an acceptable child custody arrangement that ensures you receive the appropriate amount of time with your child, or children, and keeps the best interests of the child, or children, as the main priority.

A valid child custody agreement provides you with a legal recourse in case your ex-spouse violates the terms of the agreement or engages in behavior that puts the best interests of your child at risk. 

Speak to an Experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer

Child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. That is why it makes sense to retain an experienced Houston divorce lawyer with Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. Let one of the experienced advocates with our firm fight for you in order to obtain a reasonable resolution in your custody dispute. To learn more, contact our office by phone or e-mail.



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