Estate Planning Law

Does Common Law Marriage Exist in Florida?

It’s not uncommon for couples to live together and decide not to get married.  In Florida, until 2016, couples who lived with each other without being married could be considered to have been breaking the law. However, in 2016, Governor Rick Scott repealed the 140-year law that once made it illegal for a couple to live together without being married.

In fact, there are only 10 states that recognize common law marriages, and only 6 states where common law marriages are partially recognized.

If you and your partner live together without being married, you maybe wondering: does Florida recognize common law marriage? In this article, we will tell you what you need to know.

At Doane&Doane, PA, we are passionate about giving our clients the personalized legal counsel they need to appropriately take care of many major life and death decisions, whether it is estate planning, common law marriages, or future child support.

So, to answer your common law marriage questions, we welcome you to consider contacting us at Doane&Doane, PA for estate planning advice and services.  You can contact us today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

Before we discuss common law marriage in Florida, it’s important to understand what a common law marriage is.Common law marriages are defined as two people who have lived together for a period of time and consider themselves married, despite the fact that they don’t have a marriage license.

There are some requirements common law couples must meet in the states that recognize common law marriages. For example, they must have been together for a specific amount of time, they must consider themselves to be married, etc.

Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriages?

In a nutshell, the answer is no. The state of Florida does not allow for common law marriages. However, Florida will recognize common law marriages that were made valid in other states.

Under Section 741.211, Florida Statutes, common law marriages are not valid in the state of Florida unless they were entered into before January 1, 1968.

There are two exceptions to the state of Florida’s common law marriage law. In Florida, the court may recognize your common law marriage if:

1. You and your partner got married under Florida’s common law marriage laws before January 1, 1968.
2. You were married under the common law marriage laws in another state. If you and your partner were in a common law marriage in a state that recognizes your union as a legal marriage, you may have the same rights as married couples in the state of Florida.

Keep in mind that if you entered into a common law marriage in a state that recognizes them, and choose to separate, you will have to start proceedings to terminate your common law marriage in that state, and not Florida.

What Rights Do You Have as an Unmarried Couple in Florida?

Because the state of Florida does not recognize common law marriages, you don’t have the same rights as married couples no matter how long you’ve lived together.

Some of the rights married couples enjoy in the state of Florida include:

1. The ability to share assets and debts
2. The right to inherit property from each ot
3. The right to a fair property division should you divorce.

So, what if you believed you were married under common law, and now know that Florida does not recognize common law marriages?

As soon as things get rocky between you, or one of you develops a serious medical condition, there are legal issues that can and do arise from those situations.

You and your partner who live together can enjoy some of the same rights as married couples in Florida by having some legal documents drawn up and signed.

For example, you can create your estate plan in the state of Florida and name your partner as a beneficiary so they may inherit some or all of your estate in the event of your death.

Additionally, you can assign them the ability to make medical decisions for you in your Medical Power of Attorney. You an also give them Power of Attorney should you become incapacitated in some way and unable to make decisions for yourself.

You may also want to come up with a Separation Agreement that specifically spells out how property, assets, debts, and other issues are going to be resolved in the event that you and your partner go your separate ways.

Look to Doane&Doane for Help with Estate Planning Options

Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane&Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.

Estate planning for you and your partner in a common law marriage is about much more than just property. It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved one. At Doane&Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys in West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability. Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients. Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.

When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane&Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates.  Notably, the founding partners of Doane&Doane are board certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.

Call us at Doane&Doane, P.A., to help you if you are faced with a probate matter, or if you would like estate planning services in Florida.  You can reach us at 561-656-0200.  Call us today.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.