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Tampa Family Lawyer > Blog > Family > Common Law Marriage In Florida

Common Law Marriage In Florida


Florida does not recognize “common law” marriage. However, today more couples are forgoing government paperwork and formal ceremonies and jumping straight into the thick of it, living together, and even having children without a formal marriage in place. These couples, for personal reasons, may never get married. However, marriage does confer some benefits. So, if you’re a Floridian who wants nothing to do with a marriage contract, how can you still gain the benefits of being married?

In fact, there is a way. Marriage is a contract between two parties, but it is a special type of contract. A broader category of contracts can be used that do not rely on the state’s marriage laws. These contracts can include estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, insurance policies, and power of attorney; essentially, the same rights as a marriage would confer.

There is no de facto common law marriage in Florida 

Common law marriage is an arrangement that exists in about 12 U.S. states. Only 7 of those states still allow common law marriage. Five of those states, including Florida, only recognize common law marriages that were entered into before a certain date. In Florida, your common law marriage would need to be recognized before 1968. In fact, even individuals who live in states that allow common law marriages should pursue other options to ensure that if their relationship ends, they can control how it dissolves later. State laws regarding common law marriage are quite old. Many now have contradictory statutes that appear to be at odds with the original text. Other states only recognize common law marriages for inheritance reasons. It can be confusing for a couple to know whether or not their state considers their relationship a common law marriage or not.

What can you do besides common law marriage? 

If your state doesn’t recognize common law marriage and you’re not interested in getting married, then you can enter into agreements with your spouse that perform the same function as a legal marriage would. This includes property division in your last will and testament, health care proxies if you become disabled, and cohabitation agreements that determine what happens to co-owned property if your relationship dissolves. In other words, there is no reason to get married if you don’t want to. You can still pursue many of the same protections that marriage confers outside of a marital agreement. However, the law will not automatically recognize this agreement. You must put it in writing and notarize it. For that, you’ll need a lawyer.

Call a Tampa Family Lawyer Today 

Faulkner Law Group represents the interests of Tampa couples seeking divorce. Call our Tampa Family Lawyer today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your goals immediately.

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