Ricki Lake, the star of Hairspray, and former talk show host, recently decided to get married to her fiancee Christian Evans, but did so by eloping, reports the Houston Chronicle.
Eloping to get married is not really a legal concept per se, in that it basically involves carrying out all the protocols of a wedding without really informing people. But that does not change the fact that a contract has been entered into.
And, ultimately, any marriage is a contract.
Having said that, there is a type of marriages where you don't actually go through the formal process even an elopment. This is usually referred to as a common law marriage.
In a "common law marriage," you are considered legally married -- despite not having a marriage license, a ceremony, or a marriage certificate -- if your state recognizes common law marriages, and you meet certain state law requirements.
For what its worth, common law marriages are a dying concept, and most states do not recognize them. For instance, California, where Ricki Lake eloped, is not a common law marriage state.
However, Texas is a common law marriage state.
If a man and woman in Texas sign a form provided by the county clerk, agree to be married, cohabitate, and represent to others that they are married, a common law marriage exists.
Texas being a common law marriage state also means that family lawyers in the state have experience dealing with the situation when such marriages come to an end. This includes disposing of property and making determinations about child custody.
So if you have a common law marriage in Texas and are considering dissolving it, please speak to an attorney.
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