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Rights of Unmarried Couples in Florida


While some people decide to marry in their relationship, other couples decide marriage is not the right path for them. Unfortunately, this means they also have very few rights in Florida, unless they have children together.

In previous times, one of the main reasons couples did not marry is because they were same-sex couples and a legally recognized marriage was not possible. However, Florida now recognizes same-sex marriages, which has led to an increase in same-sex couples tying the knot. However, there are plenty of other opposite-sex and same-sex couples who have determined that marriage is not right for them for one reason or another. In these situations, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney who has experience handling asset protection and distribution for unmarried couples. If you plan to live together as an unmarried couple, you need a cohabitation agreement to help avoid complex and costly legal disputes.

Child Support, Custody, and Timesharing

Unmarried couples are obviously concerned about their children in case their relationship breaks down. Topics like child support, custody, and timesharing are some of the biggest concerns. Regardless of whether you are legally married or not, parents want fair time with their children. It would seem that non-married fathers are at a disadvantage from the start, as mothers have custody at birth. An unmarried father has to prove paternity to get these rights. Even signing a birth certificate may not be enough to establish rights in some cases.

Children have a right to receive support from both parents regardless of custody. Once paternity is confirmed, the judge will issue an award on how much you need to pay. The topic of timesharing is a separate issue from child support, and you can be ordered to pay support even if you don’t see your child.

Property Rights

Married couples have codified statutes to protect their rights, and they may be further detailed in a marital document like a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. Couples who choose to cohabitate, but are not married, need to draw up property agreements to protect their rights. It’s conceivable that the longer you live together, the more assets you may accumulate. Without any type of agreement, there is no guarantee that you can claim ownership of anything from the relationship as the title will be the ruling document.

Is Cohabitation Illegal in Florida?

You might be wondering whether it’s legal to cohabitate in Florida. While it might seem like an odd question if you are from another state, until recently, there was an antiquated law on the books that made it illegal to live together in Florida if you were not married. The law was over 140 years old and, was finally repealed by Governor Rick Scott in 2016. 

Retaining a Florida Family Law Attorney

If you are an unmarried couple living together, you need to take extra steps to ensure your assets and rights are protected. An experienced Florida cohabitation attorney can help you with estate planning and tools like a living will. In the event you split up, we can assist with the division of property process since there would be no action filed in family court. Contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.

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