Most people realize that getting married or divorced can have an impact on their finances and property rights. But a lesser known area of family law is that other types of relationships, such as cohabiting, can also have an impact. In Texas, and a small number of other states, common law marriages are recognized and cohabiting together for a period of time may result in being regarded as legally married.
There is more to it than that, though, and consulting with a Texas family law attorney to determine whether your circumstances may be regarded as a common law marriage can be helpful. Such a marriage may need to be ended by divorce, rather than just a separation, and may have an impact on inheritance and other rights related to finances.
Those living in a state that recognizes common law marriage may wish to see a lawyer to help document their intent not to be legally married. In some instances, cohabitation agreements may be useful for such couples to spell out an agreement as to property ownership and division of income and expenses, both during the relationship and after it ends.
If a couple is living together without being married, it can also be helpful to talk to a lawyer to determine the implications and wisdom of such things as joint checking accounts, credit card accounts or investments. If an unmarried couple purchases a home together, there are different legal ways to deal with the title, and legal advice is absolutely essential. Estate planning may also be more complicated, as inheritances will not be automatic if the relationship is not recognized as a marriage for purposes of state or federal law.
Source: The Villager YourHoustonNews.com, "Relationships may affect your finances" Byron W. Ellis, Sep. 04, 2013