Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Living in Florida has its perks. However, there is a prevailing misconception that cohabitating for a certain period automatically equates to a legal marriage. While this may hold true in certain jurisdictions, it is not the case in Orlando, Florida. Unless a common law marriage was established before January 1, 1968, the state of Florida generally does not recognize it. Keep reading to delve deeper into this topic.

Florida Does Not Acknowledge Common Law Marriage

Florida recognizes various forms of marriage, including formal marriages and civil unions. However, common law marriage is not one of them.

Apart from formal marriages and civil unions, Florida provides alternative options for couples who wish to formalize their commitment. These alternatives, such as domestic partnerships and reciprocal beneficiaries, offer similar legal rights and protections as marriage without being legally classified as such.

In essence, couples in Florida have several avenues to solidify their relationships and demonstrate their dedication to each other.

Florida Will Recognize Common Law Marriage from Another State

Although Florida itself does not recognize common law marriage, it does recognize marriages that were validly entered into in other states. This includes common law marriages that are recognized by those particular states. The states that recognize common law marriage are as follows:

  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington, D.C.
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It’s important to note that each state has its own criteria for determining common law marriage. Simply assuming that living together for an extended period makes you married in one of those states is insufficient.

To legally marry in Florida, a couple must obtain a marriage license from the state and have their union solemnized by an authorized individual such as a judge or religious leader. This ensures that the marriage is legally recognized, granting the couple specific rights and responsibilities under state law.

If you wish to dissolve a common law marriage, it must be done in the state where the common law marriage was originally established. The only exception to this rule is if you and your spouse meet Florida’s common law marriage requirements prior to January 1, 1968.

Do Unmarried Florida Couples Possess Any Legal Rights?

Generally, unmarried couples in Florida do not possess the same legal rights as married couples, nor are they considered to be in any form of marriage or civil union under state law. Unmarried couples face challenges when it comes to accessing vital benefits such as health insurance and social security. Additionally, many couples lack crucial legal protections concerning property ownership, healthcare decision-making, and end-of-life planning.

However, it’s worth noting that Florida recognizes the putative spouse doctrine, which safeguards individuals who enter into a marriage with someone who is already married. Under this doctrine, certain marital rights are extended to individuals even if their marriage is deemed invalid and solely putative.

Despite these obstacles, unmarried couples can take steps to safeguard themselves and their loved ones. For instance, they can establish a living will or power of attorney to dictate medical decisions in case of incapacity or serious illness. Joint bank accounts and co-ownership of property can also offer additional financial security.

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Seek Assistance from the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC

To fully protect themselves, unmarried couples in Florida should seek legal guidance from an experienced Orlando divorce attorney who can navigate the intricacies of state laws pertaining to marriage and civil unions.

For more information, reach out to the knowledgeable Orlando divorce lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC. Schedule a free consultation by calling (407) 831-0203.


Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

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