Texas is a common law state, meaning that a legal wedding ceremony is not required if you want to claim common law marriage to your loved one.
In regard to TDCJ there are 2 methods to present yourself as common law married with your incarcerated loved one. 1. Before your loved one was incarcerated, you could have possible gone to the local county clerk's office and filed an Affidavit of Informal Marriage. This would have required both parties being present. If you took these steps prior to incarceration, you may obtain a certified copy of the informal declaration of marriage from the county clerk and send it to inmate records at your loved one's specific TDCJ unit and request the status be honored. (or) 2. When your loved one arrived in TDCJ they are given the opportunity to add you to their family tree and visitation list. Your status at that time can be listed as common law, however TDCJ typically requires you to fill out their Affidavit of Informal Marriage. This document is for TDCJ purposes only. And if you are trying to prove you are common law married to another entity you may have a difficult time in doing so.
Keep in mind with informal marriage the burden to prove the marriage exists is upon you in all circumstances.
In addition, if your loved one is no longer at an intake facility, many units in fact no longer honor the informal marriage request if it wasn't completed during intake or if the offender has been incarcerated for an extended period of time.
Removing Common Law Status with TDCJ
If your loved one filed a TDCJ Informal Marriage Document and wants the status to be changed, you may follow these steps.
Keep in Mind: Removing TDCJ Common Law Status with TDCJ varies unit to unit and circumstance to circumstance. The more evidence you can provide to TDCJ to warrant the change in marital status the better.
3. The incarcerated loved one should turn in an i-60 to inmate records/classification and request that their status be updated to reflect they are no longer married. It is important to include both items referenced in Step 1 and Step 2 with their i-60 request.
Most units will honor the change with one or both of the above listed items. We encourage you to obtain both. In some instances the unit will not accept the above referenced items and instead request an actual Final Decree of Divorce. If this happens and you feel it is unwarranted, you or the incarcerated loved one may contact Offender Counsel in Huntsville. (936) 437-5203
In some matters if children or property are involved an actual divorce may be necessary. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the information provided herein. 281-849-1539 firstname.lastname@example.org