Dissolving A Common Law Marriage In Florida
Going through a ceremony, even an informal one at the courthouse, in which a couple becomes married in order to receive the legal benefits of marriage, does not appeal to everyone. Sometimes for one reason or another, couples who have been in long term committed relationships prefer not to go through a formalized marriage. These couples may be in a common law marriage depending on which state they live.
A common law marriage is a marriage that arises without a couple getting a marriage license or being issued a marriage certificate. Generally, in the states that recognize common law marriages, couples who can legally marry establish their status as common law spouses by living together for a number of years, telling other people that they are married, and doing so with the intention to be married.
Common law marriages are recognized in several states throughout the country, but Florida is not one of those states. However, Florida does recognize common law marriages that were entered into before the change in Florida law ending the recognition of common law marriages, and those that are entered into in a state that recognizes common law marriages.
If the common law marriage is recognized under these exceptions, then dissolution of the marriage will be handled like other divorces under Florida law. This means that all property the couple owns will be divided according to the law on the dissolution of marriage in Florida. This will also be true of any debts and alimony to be awarded.
However, if a couple lives in Florida and acts as though they are in a common law marriage, including telling other people they are married, the marriage is not valid. Therefore, when it comes time for the couple to separate or dissolve their relationship, issues such as division of assets and alimony will not be able to be handled in family court. In fact, there will be no right to alimony, or a share of retirement accounts, and the division of property will be handled according to how the property is owned.
If the couple has children together, the determination of parental responsibility and time sharing can be determined by a Florida court even if the parents’ common law marriage is not recognized. Each parent can file to be awarded primary parental responsibility of the children and seek child support regardless of their marital status.
Contact Us For More Information
If you are not sure about the status of your marriage and are considering dissolving what you believe is a common law marriage, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney before taking any steps to dissolve the marriage. Determining your options before you file for dissolution could save you some time and money if you are not in a legally recognized marriage. Alternatively, if you are in a common law marriage that is recognized in Florida, a consultation could help you get the settlement you are entitled to under the law after you dissolve the marriage. To schedule a meeting with our compassionate and experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorneys, contact us at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for legal assistance.