What Exactly is a Texas Common-Law Marriage?

Cynthia Sinatra is trying to prove she was still married to Frank Sinatra, Jr. – even after their divorce.

By Rhonda FanningJanuary 3, 2017 2:18 pm

Back in 1998, Frank Sinatra Jr., the bandleader son of the famous singer, married Cynthia McMurray. The Sinatras were divorced almost two and a half years later. She was awarded a half share of Sinatra Jr.’s $4.5 million Beverley Hills home plus an additional $500,000. Frank Sinatra Jr. died this past year, in the midst of an ongoing legal battle with Cynthia Sinatra.

The two remained close after the divorce – Sinatra Jr. called her the love of his life. But now, Cynthia Sinatra is asking the Texas Supreme Court to decide whether, despite the divorce, the two were still married under common law.

Thomas Oldham, professor at the University of Houston Law Center, says in Texas, to be in a common-law marriage a man and woman must live together in the state as husband and wife and hold themselves out to the community as a married couple.

“There’s no minimum time,” Oldham says. “The courts have clarified that the question is really ‘What was your reputation in your community?’ What did your family think? What did your friends think? What did your co-workers think?”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What Cynthia Sinatra is claiming

– What Sinatra’s biggest hurdle will be in the case

– What will happen if the Texas Supreme Court takes up the case

– Why people have been critical of common law marriage