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Is There Common Law Marriage in Florida?
More and more couples are living together without an official marriage certificate or a wedding ceremony. From 1995 until 2019, married adults in the U.S. declined from 58% to 53%, while the percentage of adults living with their partner increased from 3% to 7%. Also of note is the fact that the share of adults 18 to 44 that had lived with an unmarried partner (59%) was greater than the share who had even been married (50%).
A couple is considered to have a common law marriage when they live together and hold themselves out as married to the community at large. Eight states allow for common law marriages, and five states allow for common law marriages only if those marriages were formed before a specific date.
Florida is one of those five states. Only a common law marriage that was entered into before January 1, 1968, is considered valid under state law. What does this mean for couples that thought they were living as if married under common law in Florida? Read on to learn more.
The Legal Benefits Conferred by Marriage
There are several benefits given only to couples that are legally married under Florida law. These benefits include:
The right to inherit property from your spouse’s estate.
Couples with a common law marriage in Florida that was entered into before January 1, 1968, would be considered married under state law.
Can Florida Common Law Marriage Couples Get the Legal Benefits of Marriage?
Yes, they can, so long as the common law marriage was entered into before the 1968 date discussed above. Florida will also recognize your common law marriage from another state. If that is the case for you and your partner, you should have the same rights that legally married Florida couples have.
However, if you want to end a common law marriage from another state, you will need to file for a divorce in that state, not in Florida. Florida couples who were married under common law before January 1, 1968, would be considered married under Florida’s laws and would be able to get divorced under Florida law.
How Else Can Unmarried Couples Gain Rights?
Unmarried couples don’t have the same rights under Florida law as married couples. But they do have the ability to execute legal agreements that can give each other largely those same rights.
With a lawyer’s help, you and your partner can name each other as a beneficiary so you can inherit a portion, if not all, of each other’s estate upon death. You can also give each other the power to make medical decisions for each other.
Another idea to consider is creating a cohabitation agreement. This document would set out how your property would be divided in the case your relationship ends. It is similar to a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that married couples would use.
Contact an Orlando Family Law Attorney With Any Questions You Might Have
If you are married or living with your partner, it’s a good idea to consult with a family law attorney to clarify each other’s rights and responsibilities in the event the relationship ends.
An experienced Orlando family law attorney will be able to guide you with whatever your issue may be. Whether it is protecting your assets, helping with custody, or spousal support, their expertise will be invaluable.