Usually, in a Texas divorce case, both parties know and agree that they were married. In some cases, however, the parties may disagree as to whether there has been an informal marriage. An informal marriage can be proven by showing that the couple agreed to be married, subsequently lived together in Texas as spouses, and represented themselves as married. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 2.401. Texas courts have held that evidence that the parties held themselves out as married must be particularly convincing and be more than occasional references to each other as husband or wife.
A mother recently challenged a court’s finding that she had not been informally married to the father of her children. The couple had two children together, one who was six and the other who was 21. The mother petitioned for divorce, arguing that she and the father married on or about 1996. In his answer, the father stated there was no existing marriage.
At the hearing, the mother testified that she believed she and the father had agreed to be informally married when they moved in together. She said the father introduced her to his friends and family as his wife. She admitted, however, that she always filed her taxes as single. She also conceded that her name was not on the deed to the house, and it instead named the father and his father as the owners.