Living in Florida has many benefits. However, one common misconception is that people who live together long enough are considered married under the law. That’s true in some places, but not in Orlando, Florida. Unless your common law marriage was entered into before January 1, 1968, the state will not recognize it in most – but not all – instances. Read on to learn more.
Florida Does Not Have Common Law Marriage
Besides formal marriages and civil unions, Florida also offers several other options for couples seeking to formalize their relationships. These include domestic partnerships and reciprocal beneficiaries, which provide some of the same legal rights and protections as a marriage without actually being considered a legal marriage.
Overall, there are many different ways for couples in Florida to formalize their relationships and express their commitment to one another.
Florida Will Recognize Common Law Marriage from Another State
Florida does not recognize common law marriage, but the state does recognize any marriages that are validly entered into in other states. This includes common law marriages that are valid in any state that recognizes common law marriage. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Be aware that each of these locations also has different requirements for being considered married under their state common law statutes. Don’t just assume that because you and your partner have lived together for many years that one of those states would consider you married.
In order to be considered legally married in Florida, a couple must obtain a marriage license from the state and have their union solemnized by an official like a judge or religious leader. This ensures that the marriage is legally recognized and gives the couple certain rights and responsibilities under state law.
If you want to end a common law marriage, however, you cannot do so in Florida. You must do so in the state where your common law marriage status was originally granted. The only exception here is if you and your spouse meet Florida’s common law marriage requirements before January 1, 1968.
Do Unmarried Florida Couples Have Any Legal Rights?
Unmarried Florida couples generally have none of the legal rights that married couples enjoy under state law and are not considered to be in any kind of marriage or civil union. One of the biggest challenges facing unmarried couples is accessing important benefits like health insurance and social security. Furthermore, many couples find that they lack important legal protections when it comes to issues like property ownership, healthcare decisions, and end-of-life planning.
However, there is an exception insofar as Florida does recognize the putative spouse doctrine. This doctrine is in place to protect someone who enters into a marriage with someone who is already married. Under this doctrine, a person could benefit from certain marital rights even though their marriage is not valid and only putative.
Despite these challenges, there are steps that unmarried couples can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. For example, unmarried partners can create a living will or power of attorney that will determine how medical decisions should be made in the event of incapacity or serious illness. They can also establish joint bank accounts or co-own property for added financial security.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Ultimately, the best way for unmarried Florida couples to protect themselves is by seeking legal advice from an experienced Orlando divorce attorney who can help them navigate the complexities of state laws regarding marriage and civil unions.
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803