In Texas, an informal or common law marriage can occur if the couple executed an informal marriage agreement pursuant to Texas law or agreed to be married and subsequently lived together as married in Texas and represented to others that they were married.
A Texas court recently found that a couple did not have an informal marriage, despite filing their taxes as “married filing jointly.” The couple began dating in 2003 or 2004. The man proposed in 2005, and the woman accepted. They moved to Texas together in 2006. They wanted to build a horse clinic where the man would practice veterinary medicine and the woman would train horses. They purchased property together and built the clinic. They had joint bank accounts, but the bookkeeping for each business was kept separate.
They filed joint tax returns indicating they were “married filing jointly” from 2006 to 2013. They co-habitated until 2013. The woman filed for divorce in 2015. After a bench trial, the trial court found the couple did not have an informal marriage and dismissed the divorce case. The woman appealed.