There are different types of relationships between couples in the United States. If a couple wishes to get married, they need to obtain a marriage license and have a certified person perform the ceremony. However, there are many couples who have never gotten married officially but their unionis recognized as a common-law marriage in some states. In those states, the same benefits and requirements apply to common-law marriage as traditional marriage.
When it comes to common-law marriage, many people believe that if a couple lives together for a certain number of years, they are considered married in the eyes of the law. However, that is a myth. There are actually specific rules that apply for a couple’s common-law marriage to be recognized legally. Some of those rules are joint taxes, a joint bank account and representation as a married couple.
Is common-law marriage recognized in Florida?
There are several states that recognize common-law marriage in general and several others that recognize it if the common-law marriage was established before a certain date (before the state abolished common-law marriage). In Florida, the year is 1968. Any common law marriage that began after 1967 is not legally recognized in Florida.
Because common-law marriages are not legally recognized, it means that when partners split up, they cannot take advantage of the property division laws that apply to divorce.
Property division laws in Florida
For property division purposes, Florida follows the equitable distribution model. This means the marital property and debts must be divided between the spouses in a way that meets state standards of fairness. Without this protection, many partners are left at a distinct financial disadvantage after a breakup.
It may seem awkward, unromantic or morbid to talk about marriage this way, but this is really one of the main legal advantages of marriage: It protects both parties when the relationship ends, whether through a divorce or the death of one of the spouses. This is also one of the main reasons a prenuptial agreement is a good idea: It makes the process of property division much easier in case the marriage ends in divorce.
People who are considering marriage or divorce can benefit from speaking to a family law attorney about their rights and legal options.