Posts Tagged ‘attorney’

Common law Marriage in Texas

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

By Holly R. Monk

Tne of the most misunderstood areas of law in Texas is the idea of “common-law” marriage.  Many people believe that if you have been living together for a long period of time, you are common-law married.  Not true.

As more couples live together these days, it is important to understand a common-law marriage relationship.   Common-law marriage is recognized in Texas between a man and a woman who agree they are married, live together as husband and wife, and hold themselves out to others as husband and wife.  This is also sometimes called “informal marriage.”

In order to meet the requirements of an informal/common-law marriage in Texas the man and woman must:

1)     Agree to be married;

2)     Live together as husband and wife, and

3)     Represent to others in Texas that they are husband and wife, often referred to as “holding out” to others that you are husband and wife.

All three elements must exist at the same time to establish a common-law marriage.

Proving a common-law marriage depends on the factual circumstances of each case. In making a determination of whether or not a common-law marriage exists, courts in Texas review the facts on a case by case basis.

1)     Agreement to Be Married

To prove a common-law marriage, you have to prove that there was an agreement by both people to be married. It is possible to live with someone that you are in a romantic relationship with without there being an agreement that you are married. Basically, the agreement is “we don’t need a piece of paper, we are married in our hearts.”

The case law in Texas states that there must be evidence that shows that the parties intended to have a present, immediate, and permanent marital relationship wherein they both agreed to be husband and wife. An agreement to get married at some later time in the future is not sufficient to establish an agreement to be married.   If there is no written agreement, the actions of the couple will be used to prove that there was an agreement you are  married—or not.  If you keep telling your friends about the great wedding you are planning, then there is  no agreement that you are already married.  However, if the other two factors below are found to be true, then the agreement can be determined from the circumstances.

2)     Living Together/Cohabitation

In order to establish a common-law marriage the parties must live together in Texas as husband and wife.  It is more than just sexual intercourse, or having children together, you must be maintaining a household and doing things that are commonly done by a husband and a wife. There is no magic number for how long you must reside together in Texas in order to fulfill this requirement.

3)     Holding Out

In order to establish a common-law marriage the parties must represent to others in Texas that they are married. The case law in Texas states that the purpose of this requirement is that there can be no secret common-law marriage. No spoken words are  necessary to fulfill this requirement. The actions and conduct by each person may be enough to fulfill the requirement of holding out. For example, if you have joint bank accounts, bought property together listing yourselves as husband and wife, file joint tax returns together showing yourselves as spouses,  you are holding yourselves out as husband and wife.

If you are common-law married, then the only way to dissolve the marriage is through divorce.


U Visa For Victims of Crimes

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Michael J. Spychalski

The U visa is designed for noncitizen crime victims who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse flowing from criminal activity and have cooperated with government officials investigating or prosecuting such criminal activity.  To qualify for a U visa, a noncitizen must: 1) Show that he or she has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as the result of one of the following forms of criminal activity:U Visa Immigration Lawyers

Rape; torture; trafficking; incest; domestic violence; sexual assault; abusive sexual contact; prostitution; sexual exploitation; female genital mutilation; being held hostage; peonage; involuntary servitude; slave trade; kidnapping; abduction; unlawful criminal restraint; false imprisonment; blackmail; extortion; manslaughter; murder; felonious assault; witness tampering; obstruction of justice; perjury; or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes;

2) Show that he or she possesses information concerning the criminal activity; and

3) Provide a certification from a federal, state, or local law enforcement official prosecutor, judge, or authority investigating criminal activity designated in the statute that states that the U visa applicant is being, has been or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of designated criminal activity.

Spouses, children, and parents, are not derivatives but must self-petition themselves.  There is a slightly higher standard for approval.  A designated government official must certify that an investigation or prosecution would be harmed without the assistance of the qualifying relative, and the Department of Homeland Security must determine that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if he or she does not receive a U visa.


It is possible to qualify for lawful permanent residence if they were admitted under a nonimmigrant status such as a tourist visa; did not participate in Nazi persecution nor engage in genocide; have been physically present in the United States for at least three years since receiving their U visas; and humanitarian grounds, family unity, or the public interest justify their continued presence in the United States.

If you know of anyone who might qualify under a U visa, please feel free to contact our office.

Michael Spychalski
Dallas, TX 

Phone: 214-252-9099Fax: 214-520-9941

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Save Your Home and Avoid Foreclosure Using Bankruptcy

Friday, March 25th, 2011

During this era of record-high home foreclosure and unemployment rates, many Americans are behind on their mortgage payments and are understandably concerned about losing their family home.


Many families who are facing foreclosure find that either their mortgage company will not work with them to stop a foreclosure, or wants a very large cash payment in order to modify their mortgages. Unfortunately, the federal government’s loan modification program has been a dismal failure, with few distressed homeowners finding any relief.

Under current bankruptcy laws, however, an individual or family may be able to stop the foreclosure of their home. Many individuals and families are able to save their homes from foreclosure by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is debt reorganization under bankruptcy law. In most cases, filing for Chapter 13 stops the foreclosure process, preventing eviction and giving the homeowner time to file a plan to reorganize his or her debts. Without the looming threat of foreclosure and eviction, homeowners can work with their attorneys to create a plan that allows them to affordably reorganize their debts and save their homes.

Chapter 13 allows the homeowner to create a plan to repay the house payments that were missed prior to bankruptcy over three to five years. If the homeowner has fallen behind on property taxes, the property taxes can be paid over time under the Chapter 13 plan as well. Normally the homeowner makes one payment to a court-appointed trustee, who pays pre-filing debts included in the plan from the payment. After filing for Chapter 13, the homeowner then resumes making the regular monthly payment on the home, while the arrears are paid to the mortgage company through the trustee.

Chapter 13 can make it easier for a homeowner to resume making house payments by restructuring other debt as well. Credit cards, medical debt, personal loans and other unsecured debts can be paid through the plan, but may not have to be paid in full, depending on the homeowner’s income and family size. Many chapter 13 filers pay only a small percentage on these debts, with the balances being “discharged” or forgiven by the court when the plan is successfully completed. Some car loans can be restructured to reduce the balance of the loan to the value of the vehicle, and to reduce the interest rate.

For additional information about us and the benefit of retaining our services, please visit the Benefits of Retaining Bailey & Galyen page.

To discuss your bankruptcy matter with a Texas consumer and business bankruptcy lawyer, please call us toll free at 877.345.6767 (DFW area), 866.715.1529 (Houston area) or 866.678.1900 (South Texas).

Bailey & Galyen Attorneys at Law