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Is There Common Law Marriage in Florida?


Many couples in Florida live together without being married, though doing so was illegal until recently. In 2016, Florida repealed the law that made it illegal for unwed couples to live together.

Common law marriage refers to when a couple lives together for some time but never obtains a marriage license. Some states recognize “common law marriages” as valid marriages. However, Florida is not one of the states that recognize common law marriages, though there are a few exceptions to the general rule.

If you have been living with your partner for a long period of time and are wondering whether your relationship can be considered common law marriage under Florida law, you may want to consult with an Orlando family lawyer at Donna Hung Law Group.

Does Florida recognize common law marriage?

Some states recognize common law marriages as valid marriages if the unmarried couple meets specific requirements. In many cases, a couple must be living together for a certain period of time in order for their relationship to meet the definition of common law marriage.

However, Florida is one of many states that do not recognize common law marriage. Under Section 741.211, Florida Statutes, common law marriages are not valid unless it was entered into before January 1, 1968. Under certain circumstances, a Florida court may recognize a common law marriage as valid.

When a Florida court may recognize a common law marriage as valid

There are two exceptions to Florida’s common law marriage law. A Florida court may recognize an unmarried couple’s union under the following circumstances:

  1. You and your spouse got married under Florida’s common marriage law before January 1, 1968. In this situation, you can enjoy the legal rights of a married couple in Florida.
  2. You were married under the common marriage law in another state. A Florida court will recognize common law marriages that were entered into under the laws of another state. If you and your spouse entered into a common law marriage in a state that recognizes such unions as legal marriages, you could enjoy the same rights as a married couple in Florida.

However, if you wish to end a common law marriage that is recognized as legally valid by another state, you will have to initiate proceedings to terminate the marriage in that state. Since Florida law does not recognize common law marriages as legally valid, local courts do not have jurisdiction to terminate a common law marriage that was entered into under another state’s law.

What are your legal rights as an unmarried couple in Florida?

Many couples in Florida choose to get married and obtain a marriage license to protect their legal rights. Since Florida law does not consider common law marriage as a legally recognized marriage, an unmarried couple cannot enjoy the same legal rights as a married couple regardless of how long you have been living together.

Some of the legal rights married couples enjoy in Florida are:

  • The right to share marital assets and debts;
  • The right to inherit property from a spouse; and
  • The right to fair property division in the event of divorce.

However, unmarried couples who live together can enjoy some of the legal rights of a legally married couple by creating legal documents. Consult with our Orlando family lawyers at Donna Hung Law Group to find out how you can protect your rights as an unmarried couple in Florida. Schedule a case review by calling at 407-999-0099.