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Does Florida Have Common Law Marriage?


When is a married couple not married?  Is it possible to not know for sure whether you are truly married to your spouse?  These are the kind of thoughts that never pass through your mind until you are watching Netflix alone late at night, and an offhand comment made by a character in a series opens a portal to existential dread in your brain.  How do you divorce someone you were never married to?  What is marital property without marriage?  If a child’s legal father and biological father are not the same person, which one is the “real” father in the eyes of the law?  Before you know it, legions of doppelgangers are marching two by two in your mind.  When you have time to think about all of this by the light of day, you probably do know for sure whether you and your spouse are married, and you probably also know whether you want a divorce.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you get your fair share of marital property if you are dissolving a legally valid marriage, but you also have some rights when ending a relationship where you were not married to your partner.

Can You Be a Little Bit Married?

In the old days, common law marriage meant that a couple lived together, and perhaps had children together, but had never legally registered their marriage in the courthouse.  The practice of common law marriage dates back to the time before automobiles, when traveling to the county courthouse was a major undertaking, so many couples simply had a wedding ceremony in their local church and then began their life together as a couple.

Florida no longer recognizes common law marriage, except for common law marriages entered into before 1968.  Despite this, many couples in Florida live together without being legally married.  From the perspective of family law, they count as unmarried couples.

What If You Entered Into a Common Law Marriage in Another State?

As of 2024, ten states still recognize common law marriage.  Except for South Carolina and Rhode Island, they are all west of the Mississippi River.  If you entered a common law marriage in one of these states, you must dissolve it in that state.  In Florida, your common law husband is just a boyfriend.

How Can the Family Court Help Couples Who Were Never Legally Married?

If you registered your marriage but the court determines that it was invalid, the court will annul your marriage.  This means that none of your property counts as marital property, and alimony is not an option.  If you have minor children with your ex-partner, regardless of whether you were ever married, you have the right to a court-ordered parenting plan, which guarantees parenting time for both parents and which forms the basis of a child support order.

Contact Schwartz | White About Dissolving Your Non-Marriage

A South Florida family law attorney can help you exercise your legal rights when co-parenting your children with an ex-partner to whom you were never legally married.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.

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