Common law marriage same as church wedding

Q. What are my rights if I have a common law marriage? If we get divorced, will I have the right to any property?

A. As I have said many times before, a common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. You are married. Whether you are married by a justice of the peace, a rabbi or priest, or have a common law marriage, the legal ramifications are the same.

To have a common law marriage, you must agree to be married, hold yourself out as married, and live together as married. Once you establish a common law marriage, your right to share property obtained while married is the same as any other spouse. If you get divorced, you will share all “community property,” which basically is anything either of you obtain while you were married.


Q. I co-signed for my sister so she could buy a car. She stopped making payments and the car was repossessed. They sold the car and now say I owe almost $4,000. How do I get my name off of this agreement?

A. You don’t! If you co-sign, you have basically the same liability as the person for whom you co-signed. If she doesn’t pay, you are responsible. Once you co-sign, you cannot be released from your obligation unless the creditor agrees. In other words, you now have the same liability as your sister.

The reason you owe almost $4,000 is because when a car is repossessed, the repossession does not automatically extinguish the debt. The car will be sold, and the amount obtained at the sale will be applied to the debt. In your sister’s case, after applying the sale amount to the debt, there was a deficiency of almost $4,000.


In most cases, ... 


To read the full "Know Your Rights" article for the February 22nd issue of The Examiner, as well as the full issue, subscribe and read online:



Or, purchase The Examiner where Southeast Texas newspapers are sold.