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A contract by any name is still a legal agreement

Marriage is by definition a contract. When someone enters into that relationship in Texas certain rights and expectations follow. To further clarify what rights and obligations a couple might expect is something that can be framed through a carefully crafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

But formal marriage isn't the only way that couples can unite. And prenuptial or postnuptial agreements aren't the only contracts that can be employed to outline what should happen in the event that property needs to be divided at some point down the road.

In Texas, common law marriage is recognized. That's one of the many things that makes the Lone Star State unique. It takes more than just living together to achieve common law marriage status. Both parties have to agree to being married; the parties have to live together; and they have to present themselves as married to other people.

If all those conditions are met, a common law marriage can be said to exist and with that standing comes the same rights and responsibilities as a ceremonial marriage. Property and debts accumulated during the marriage become community property. If the couple divorces, all the property and debts will be subject to equitable division.

If you wed in what might be considered the traditional ceremony, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement detailing how property should be divided can be drawn up. In the case of a common law marriage, such a document might be called a partition or exchange agreement. This might be something that couples simply choosing to live together might want to consider creating, too.

No matter what you call them, these documents are contracts. Their purpose is to establish a plan that protects both parties. And to be sure they are solid and enforceable, consulting an experienced attorney is always advised.

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