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Old 07-09-2007, 11:06 PM
 
187 posts, read 782,224 times
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I'm new to the state of Texas. I have questions regarding common law or community property. I know that this is REALLY a question for an attorney, but I was wondering if anyone can tell me anything about common law or community property laws in Texas....

My partner/boyfriend and I have lived together for eight years in another state. I owned (outright, by myself) the house we lived in and our state laws were such that we were always filing taxes as single people. My income, my ("our") house, my taxes... His income, his taxes.

In Texas we can be "married" or not, according to what I understand, by simply holding ourselves out as married, publicly. This would allow me to get him spousal benefits through work...breaks on auto insurance, etc. No need to go to a judge or have a ceremony. We can just consider ourselves married....

My question is: if I want to buy a house in Texas (we currently rent), can I buy one myself, or are spouses unable to buy property THEMSELVES--such as a house--in a community property state such as Texas?

I ask because my credit is good but boyfriend/partner/common-law (or "informal") spouse has poor credit.... Maybe we should just stay "single" but committed-for-life.... But again, perhaps we're married in Texas even if we don't want to be....

Lawyers? Texans? Anyone?
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:11 AM
 
9 posts, read 52,740 times
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*DISCLAIMER!*
I am not a lawyer in any way, shape or form. This is just my understanding, so no holding me liable for anything, ok?

You're right about the common law marriage, there is no paperwork necessary per se as long as you both live together and hold yourself out to be married... but if you wanted to get insurance breaks, health benefits and the like you are going to want to go ahead and make it "official" - by filling out a form from the County Clerk's office. There's no judge, no ceremony, just a sworn document to sign. That might take some of the shine out of common law marriage, but if you want to reap any tangible benefits out of this common law marriage, you'll more than likely need the paper...

As far as your ability to buy a house, the answer is that yes, you can buy a house with just your name on the mortgage. But if you're common law married, and given that Texas is a community property state, you should keep in mind that everything you acquire after the marriage (except for gifts and inheritances) will be community property. Of course, if this is something that concerns you, you can use some clever accounting to acquire separate property (ex: using a gift/inheritance to buy a house, which is yours since you used separate property to buy it). But this requires going setting up separate bank accounts and going to a lot of effort.

This is just my basic understanding - you should REALLY get a lawyer's opinion on this!
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Old 07-10-2007, 10:04 AM
 
31,324 posts, read 48,634,374 times
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and a common law marriage requires a real, legal, go-to-court divorce--there is not tearing up the paper and considering it done...

even if you DON"t sign a common-law statement, living in TX as common-law carried consequences regarding any property/wealth gained after that cohabitation---unless it was via inheritance as the other poster mentioned....
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:11 AM
 
Location: NW Austin, TX
106 posts, read 437,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schoenfraun View Post
I'm new to the state of Texas. I have questions regarding common law or community property. I know that this is REALLY a question for an attorney, but I was wondering if anyone can tell me anything about common law or community property laws in Texas....

< snip>

In Texas we can be "married" or not, according to what I understand, by simply holding ourselves out as married, publicly. This would allow me to get him spousal benefits through work...breaks on auto insurance, etc.
Wow... your work doesn't offer "domestic partner benefits"...?

Double wow.

TX Griff
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Old 07-11-2007, 08:21 AM
 
31,324 posts, read 48,634,374 times
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domestic partner benefits are really for gay couples that can't be married legally within certain states--don' t know that if a person is just "living" with someone for prolonged period that qualifies to receive benefits---

people who live together in relationship that has all the trappings of being married w/o being married usually have a reason that to them is financially or personally beneficial ---yet they also want to claim any perks that would enhance that relationship, i.e. Health benefits -- w/o completing the "techinical" requirements--want to have their cake and eat it too==
trying to work the system to their advantage--
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:52 PM
 
Location: NW Austin, TX
106 posts, read 437,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loves2read View Post
domestic partner benefits are really for gay couples that can't be married legally within certain states--don' t know that if a person is just "living" with someone for prolonged period that qualifies to receive benefits---
Well if that were true, which it isn't, the companies offering doemstic partner benefits would be discriminating against straight couples living together w/out benefit of marriage... and they could be sued for this form of discrimination, ergo "domestic partner benefits" are NOT "really" for gay couples in the least.

Many employers --large, small, goverment & civilian-- know that their benefit package is a HUGE chunk of attracting & keeping talented employees and they routinely offer domestic partner benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Some companies require nothing more than the employee listing his/her partner as a "partner"... other companies require "P & A"... proof and an affidavit.

The most common P & A structure requires domestic partners to demonstrate some or all of the following:
  • Cohabitation for a specified period (generally, at least six months)
  • Financial interdependence
  • They are of the minimum age of consent for a legal marriage in the state in which they reside
  • They are not related by blood
  • They are not married to anyone else
The P & A requirement plays out in lotsa different ways, depending on the employer. For instance:
  • Employer #1: Participants must be at least 18 years old, must have lived together at least 6 months, must be in a monogamous relationship.
  • Employer #2: Participants must be at least 21 years old, must have lived together at least 12 months, must prove the relationship with at least two documents, such as shared bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage or lease statements, motor vehicle title or loan, designation of the partner as a beneficiary in a will, on life insurance or in a 401(k) plan.
  • Employer #3: Has resided with the employee for a 1 year period, shares with the employee the common necessities of life and basic living expenses, is financially interdependent with the employee, is involved with the employee in a mutually exclusive relationship of support and commitment, is not related by blood to the employee, is not married to anyone, was mentally competent at time of consent to relationship, is 18 years of age or older
You might be interested in updating your view of the corporate world and basic compensation/benefit packages offerings in this millennium with this article from the Northeast Human Resources Association... it explains the history of domestic partner coverage from 1982 to present day and succinctly details the benefits to the employer of offering same.

Domestic Partner Benefits - Moving To The Mainstream
Eileen Moraldo
Director of Benefits, TIME, Inc.


Historically, benefits models have relied upon the institution of marriage and the definition of the traditional family to determine eligibility for benefits. This template is much less useful today in light of dramatic change in the composition of the American family in recent years. According to the US Census Bureau, by 1998, only 25% of American households fit the "traditional" definition. From 1994 to 1998, the number of married couple households in the United States increased by 2%, while the number of unmarried partner households increased by 11%.

The changes in American demographics are only one reason why employers may want to consider offering domestic partner benefits to their employees. Other reasons employers cite include remaining competitive with other companies in attracting talented employees, promoting a diverse workforce, reinforcement of policies prohibiting discrimination, and to enhance the employers' reputation among its customers as well as its employees.
Benefit plans are a significant component of compensating employees, and employers may be concerned that the portion of their workforce who are unmarried are deprived of valuable compensation that is routinely offered to married employees. Offering domestic partner benefits may help to address this issue.

The first employer to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners was the Village Voice, a New York City weekly newspaper, in 1982. In 1992, Lotus Development Corp. became the first publicly traded company to offer these benefits. More and more employers have adopted domestic partner policies, and many more are considering doing so. A 1997 survey by KPMG Peat Marwick found that 13% of US employers extended health care benefits to domestic partners.

See rest of article... Northeast Human Resources Association (http://www.nehra.com/articlesresources/article.cfm?id=546&_categorytypeid=1 - broken link)

TX-Griff
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Old 07-11-2007, 08:06 PM
 
187 posts, read 782,224 times
Reputation: 98
Default not exactly the helpful advice I had in mind

Quote:
Originally Posted by loves2read View Post
domestic partner benefits are really for gay couples that can't be married legally within certain states--don' t know that if a person is just "living" with someone for prolonged period that qualifies to receive benefits---

people who live together in relationship that has all the trappings of being married w/o being married usually have a reason that to them is financially or personally beneficial ---yet they also want to claim any perks that would enhance that relationship, i.e. Health benefits -- w/o completing the "techinical" requirements--want to have their cake and eat it too==
trying to work the system to their advantage--
My partner and I had always decided not to be legally married for a variety of reasons, all of which seem to us to be quite valid and without any proverbial "cake."

One of the reasons is that, as loves2read mentioned, in most places in the USA, homosexual couples cannot be married, legally. We see this as discriminatory and have, to a certain extent, elected not to be married ourselves as a show of solidarity with our many homosexual friends and relatives who have had healthy, loving, life-long relationships that have generally been unrecognized by the state.

But, at the same time, my partner and I also do not feel the need for the government to sanction or approve of our (heterosexual) relationship, either. We've always felt that what we do is our business. I think that means we have a lot in common with many Texans, who also seem to have a strong, independent spirit and whose state history reflects this.

We also see marriage to be mostly about the control of property or assets. Historically, marriage was a contractual arrangement made between men--men arranging for the marriage of their daughters or sisters to other men--in order to achieve the best possible material outcome. How wealthy is the family? How much land do they have? How much livestock, etc.? And marriage meant that all children would be legal heirs to this wealth, whereas "illegitmate" children born out of wedlock had no legitimate claim to a man's property.

So I would suggest to loves2read that marriage has always been about "working the system," growing or controlling wealth, and that this is NOT something that only scheming, dishonest folks living in sin care about.

And as for us, we've agonized over all of this and thought about all the contradictions inherent in everything I've just said, and I think we're going to take advantage of the fact that in Texas one has only to present one's self publicly as married to be married. We can marry ourselves because we say we are. We have always maintained that our relationship is valid and we are life partners regardless of the fact that we have signed no contract between us nor had a legal or religious ceremony. I have spoken today with an attorney here about many of our concerns and questions. And so today we are a home-made husband and wife pair, because we say so, and now we can "milk the system," as loves2read might think. I can get my "husband" benefits through my job, which recognizes common-law spouses.

No florist or wedding planners were involved, no photographers or cake decorators, no dj (to mock us with the "Electric Slide" or "The Chicken Dance") or live band (threatening to play the consummate wedding song, "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"--pardon the pun).

And as The Who once sang about the true nature of the institution of marriage, "It's a legal matter, baby."
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:42 AM
 
31,324 posts, read 48,634,374 times
Reputation: 17038
exactly my point--yo had a personal reason for not becoming conventionally married that was significant enough to you to decry legal steps yet you have complied with the requirements of the state whether that is a written agreement/public ceremony/filed documents/or just personal acknowledgement that presents yourselves as married--if you didn't, you would not qualify your spouse for benefits---
frankly my take on weddings is that a wedding lasts 10 min but a marriage lasts a life time...
I hope the attorney you consulted explained any ramifications that will continue now that you have declared yourselves "common-law" spouses...because one that step has been taken, it is not as easy to retract (if you wanted to at some point in the future).

thanks for the information regarding domestic partnerships---TX Griff--I did not know that some companies' policies allowed such flexibility in domestic partnerships---part of my perception was colored by the years I spent working for the TX dept of Human Services as a caseworker--interviewing and certifying people who wanted food stamps/afdc/medicaid....
I saw many people who were living as married couples outside that office either because they had been married legally or were "domestic partners" yet to receive benefits from the state and federal govt they pretended to be "room-mates" only ---lied through their teeth and were just fraudulent as all get out...

I personally don't see any reason that gays shouldn't/can't be married legally--I don't see that as a threat to heterosexual marriage and "normal" family life--divorce itself is so much more of a threat to those institutions and no one is forbidding divorce but the Pope...
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:20 PM
 
1 posts, read 5,738 times
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If my soon to be ex-wife and I were married in Nevada, but due to certain circumstances she moved to texas and I moved to florida. If she signed a lease and forged my signature even if we were still married, is this legal in Texas? Or can I file for Fraud?
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:21 AM
 
3 posts, read 2,124 times
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Just aheads up "THIS IS JUSt my EXPERIENCE" for myself to be able to be added to my husbands medical insurance we HAD to have a common law marriage certificate. Very simple process really. Go to the courthouse tell them u want cm marriage certificate. They will ask how far BACK YOU WANT TO CLAIM YALL HAVE BEEN CLAIMING MARRIAGE, YES I AM TELLING YOU THE TRUTH!!!! They did it to me. Also what you want your anniversary date to be??? It was 07/09 when we did this and since we filed taxes since 04 that is our marriage yr and my husband choose July 4th as our day of marriage in 04. Texas Dept of Corrections, DPS, MEDICAL, LIFEinsurance etc... ALL RECOGNIZED MY COMMON LAW MARRIGE CERTIFICATE AS RECENTLY AS 04/15content://media/external/file/38531YAS
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