Moving In Together? Read This First.
If you’re contemplating moving in with your significant other in Texas, you should be aware that our state recognizes informal or “common law” marriages. In Texas, if a man and a woman live together and hold themselves out or represent to others that they are married then the state may recognize their marriage as valid; no less than it would had they obtained a license and had a formal wedding ceremony conducted by a judge or member of the clergy.
A problem can then arise when the couple splits up and one of them alleges that they had agreed to consider themselves married and had intended to be married. In such a situation the other party may find themselves defending a suit for divorce in which property that they had considered separate may now be considered community property. Additionally, debt acquired during the marriage, credit cards, student loans, cars, etc., regardless of whose name they are in are may also now be considered community property and subject to a split between the parties.
Therefore couples that are considering moving in together are wise to protect their respective interests by way of a Cohabitation Agreement. A Cohabitation Agreement can protect their interests by:
- Generally addressing each party’s relative rights, duties, and obligations;
- By a clause indicating that the parties do not wish to be considered a married couple unless and until they have a formal marriage ceremony;
- Indicating how property and debts they acquire while living together will be split up in the event they cease living together;
In order to be enforceable by a Texas court, the “[c]ohabitation Agreement must be in writing, be signed by both parties, and made in consideration of non-marital conjugal cohabitation.” Texas Family Code, Section 1.108.
If you are currently cohabitating with your significant other or thinking about doing so, please give me a call to discuss a cohabitation agreement.
Steve Buitron, JD, MPA