Are Common Law Marriages Legal In Florida?
Families come in many forms today. Some people still choose the traditional route of officially getting married and they perhaps even have children. Some people get married, but they make the decision to remain childless. Others still, decide to live together, but they never have a wedding ceremony or obtain a marriage license. In these instances, the people involved may even call each other their spouse.
If you are currently living with your partner but are not officially married, you should know what state law says about these types of relationships. Below, our Tampa family law attorney explains how you can protect your rights.
Recognizing Common Law Relationships in Florida
In some states, common law relationships are still legally recognized today. In these states, common law couples have all the same rights as married couples, usually if they have been living together as spouses for a certain amount of time. At one time, Florida also recognized common law marriages, but that is no longer the case. Under state law, common law marriages that began after January 1, 1968 are not legally recognized. Due to the fact that common law relationships were considered legal prior to this date, the state will still recognize any common law marriage entered into before that date.
As with so many other legal issues, there are exceptions to this law.
Exceptions to Common Law Relationships Under the Law
State law is very straightforward about common law relationships; however, as with most laws, there are exceptions to it.
The first is when a couple was in a legal common law relationship in another state and then moved to Florida. Currently, common law marriages are still legally recognized in the District of Columbia and ten other states. When a couple enters into a common law relationship in one of these states and then moves to Florida, the state will consider the common law relationship as legal.
The second exception is when a couple entered into a common law marriage in Florida before 1968 and then moved to another state. If the couple were to move back to Florida, the Sunshine State would still recognize their common law relationship.
Why Make it Official?
Many people choose to enter into a common law relationship because they believe marriage is just a piece of paper. While a couple has the right to live as they wish, there are some benefits to making the relationship official with a marriage license and ceremony. These benefits are as follows:
- Married couples can make decisions for their spouse in the event they become incapacitated.
- Each spouse in a married couple has rights under the property division laws of the state, while unrecognized common law couples do not.
- When unwed couples have a child together and they then break up, paternity must be established before decisions on time sharing and parental responsibility can be made.
Our Family Divorce Attorneys in Tampa Can Explain Your Options
If you are living as a married couple with your partner and you have never made it official, then it is possible you can claim that you have a common law marriage if you meet the requirements. At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa family law attorneys can advise you of your options. Essentially, even if you do not get officially married, if it is a common law marriage, then your remedy if you want to leave it is divorce. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or connect with us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case. Se habla Español.