You’re Never Legally Married Without a Marriage License
Marriage is more than just a piece of paper, except in the eyes of the law. Unmarried domestic partners have some legal protections, but certain rights are reserved only for lawfully wedded spouses. The only circumstance where the court automatically assumes that you are your child’s father is if you are legally married to the mother; even if the baby looks just like you and your DNA tests match, you still have to jump through a lot of legal hoops to become the legal father if you are not married. The only way you can override someone’s decision to disinherit you if this decision is formalized in a legally valid will is if you are the decedent’s surviving spouse. Unmarried couples may be as devoted to each other as married ones, but the rights of a former spouse in divorce only apply if there was a legally valid marriage. If you and your spouse cannot agree on anything, including whether or not you were ever really married to each other, contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.
What Makes a Marriage Official?
In order to get legally married, you must get a marriage license from your county court. The court will only issue the marriage license once it has verified that neither party is currently married to someone else. Once the court issues the marriage license, it is valid for 60 days, during which time you must solemnize the marriage. To solemnize the marriage, an ordained clergy member, licensed professional wedding officiant, judge, clerk of court, or notary public must perform a wedding ceremony and sign the marriage license. Within 10 days of solemnization, you must return the signed marriage license to the court; at that point, the court issues a marriage certificate. If you do not follow all of these steps, then in the eyes of the court, you and your partner are an unmarried couple, even if you live together and have children together.
Can You Get a Divorce If You and Your Spouse Were Never Officially Married to Each Other?
If you and your spouse were not legally married, you do not have the right to equitable distribution of marital property if you break up; none of your property is marital unless there was a real marriage. The same applies if the court annuls your marriage after determining that it was not legally valid even after you went through the steps of marriage license and solemnization. If you and your non-spouse owned property together, then the court will divide it as if it were property jointly owned by business partners, siblings, or any other two people who are not a married couple. If you and your unofficial spouse have children together, the court will still sign off on a parenting plan and issue a child support order, just as they would for children whose parents never lived together.
Contact Schwartz | White About Divorcing Your Non-Spouse
A South Florida family law attorney can help you get divorced if you are not even sure whether you were ever married. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.