Most people are familiar with a standard marriage in which a couple has obtained a marriage license and performed a ceremony confirming their status, even if that only means signing a marriage certificate.
But some states recognize another type of union known as a common law marriage, in which couples who have presented themselves as being married may have the same rights as a couple who obtained a marriage license and have been officially recognized as a married couple.
What Are the Rules For Common Law Marriage?
In the states that recognize common law marriage, couples that want this status must be able to show several things, including:
- They consider themselves married and their family, friends and colleagues all consider them to be a married couple.
- They live together
- They have shared financial responsibilities such as a joint bank account, or filing joint taxes every year.
- They share equally in the caring of any children that are included in their relationship
It’s also important to remember that in the states that do recognize common law marriage, the length of the relationship is not a deciding factor in whether the couple can obtain common law marriage status.
How Does the State of Florida View Common Law Marriage?
Florida is not a state that recognizes common law marriage, but this type of relationship was legal until 1968.
That means that couples that established common law marriage status prior to that year still retain that designation.
In addition, couples that met the requirements of common law marriage in another state will retain that status when they move to Florida.
But any couple that lives together in Florida today cannot petition the court to be considered a common law married couple. Only couples that obtain a marriage license are considered to be legally married in the state, which means they are granted all the protections of a married couple.
Some people in Florida mistake the word ‘cohabitation’ for common law marriage. Cohabitation is a relationship in which two people may live together in the same house and perform the same duties as people who are married.
But cohabitation does not provide any legal protection under Florida law, and a couple must legally get married to enjoy the benefits of that type of relationship.
Get the Help of An Experienced Attorney
Because Florida doesn’t recognize common law marriages, you can’t petition for that status with your existing relationship. But if you moved from a state that does recognize common law marriages, or your common law marriage occurred prior to 1968, you can petition to change the status of your relationship.
If you need the legal help to do this, the Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson may be able to help you achieve your goal. We have a long track record in family law, and we can put our resources to work on your behalf. Please call us today at 321-253-3771 for a free consultation with a member of our team.