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Does Florida Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

Let’s dive into a subject that sparks interest and questions alike: Is common-law marriage acknowledged in Florida? Whether you’ve experienced the charm of a sunset in Florida or you’re intrigued by the state’s legal system, it’s crucial to learn the details of common-law marriage in Florida. Let’s explore this topic!

Decoding Common-Law Marriage

Let’s start by understanding the basics. Picture two individuals who reside together and intertwine their lives, portraying themselves as a couple without going through a traditional wedding ceremony or obtaining a marriage license. While certain states recognize this as a marriage, not all states do.

Florida’s Take on Common-Law Marriages

So, does Florida recognize common-law marriages? The answer is simple: no. Since 1968, Florida has turned off the common-law marriage option. If you’ve moved in with your partner, shared bills, and even adopted a pet together, Florida still doesn’t consider you married under the law. 

For those who love legal lingo, Florida Statutes 741.211 and 741.212 are your go-to readings. They lay down the law about common-law marriages not being valid if established in Florida post-1968 and ensure that the state respects same-sex marriages formed under common law in other jurisdictions equally.

But Wait, There’s a Twist!

While Florida won’t let you start a common-law marriage, it does have a heart for those already in one from another state where it’s recognized. Yes, if you’ve established a common-law marriage in another state and then moved to Florida, the state will recognize your marital status. 

This recognition comes under the ‘full faith and credit’ principle of the U.S. Constitution, which generally requires states to respect the ‘public acts, records, and judicial proceedings’ of every other state.

For example, if a couple legally enters into a common-law marriage in a state like Colorado, where common-law marriages are recognized, and later moves to Florida, Florida would recognize their relationship as a valid marriage. This is crucial for matters such as inheritance, divorce, and other legal rights typically granted to married couples.

Why Does It Matter to be Recognized?

Identifying common-law marriages from states holds importance as it impacts legal aspects of an individual’s life such as:

Legal Rights: Decision-making in healthcare, rights to inheritance, and other privileges of spouses.

Divorce: Indeed, if you seek a divorce and have a common-law marriage in Florida, you must undergo the divorce process just like any traditionally married couple.

Children and Custody: Parental rights and responsibilities are acknowledged in common-law marriages, similar to traditional marriages.

Establishing Your Common Law Marriage from Another State in Florida

For those transitioning from a state that acknowledges your vows, you must provide evidence to ensure Florida recognizes your relationship:

Living Together: Show that you and your partner shared a residence, such as having a lease or utility bills in both of your names.

Intention to Marry: Provide evidence that you both presented yourselves as a couple, which could include filing joint tax returns, sharing bank accounts, having insurance policies with each other as beneficiaries, or receiving statements from friends and family.

Public Acknowledgment: Demonstrate that you publicly behaved as a couple, such as using the same surname, referring to each other as a spouse, or making public declarations of commitment.

Conclusion: Florida’s Legal Sunshine

While the idea of a marriage without the fuss of a wedding might appeal to some: in Florida, it’s a bit more complicated than simply living together and calling it a marriage. However, knowing this helps you navigate your relationship with more clarity and less legal drama. 

Although Florida does not allow the formation of new common-law marriages, it does bask in legal sunshine by recognizing those validly formed in other states. This ensures that no matter where your love blossomed, if it was legally recognized as a common-law marriage elsewhere, Florida will uphold your marital rights.

Remember, when it comes to legal matters, it’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney to get advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Whether you’re considering moving to Florida with a common-law spouse or just curious about the state’s laws, staying informed is your best strategy!

For personal scenarios or further clarification, it’s wise to chat with a legal expert. Laws can be tricky, and having someone in your corner can make all the difference!

Ready to secure your happily ever after in Florida? Call Dewitt Law Firm today to make it official!