Do I have to change my last name in a common law marriage?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have to change my last name in a common law marriage?

I know the 3 rules to be classified as
common law married but does it help to
change my name on most of my legal
documents? I’m a full time student at a
public university and just changed over
my status for financial aid to married
but since I don’t have the same last
name I’m concerned it may cause more

Asked on January 12, 2017 under Family Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You don't *have* to change your name--there is no legal requirement to do so; however, it may be a good idea to do it any way. One of the requirements for a common law marriage is that you and your spouse hold yourselves out or represent yourselves to others as spouses; changing your name, so you have the same name as your spouse, helps show or establish that.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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