Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Living in the Sunshine State offers more than a few perks. However, there is a misconception that people who live together long enough are considered lawfully married. While this may be true in some states, it is not in Florida.

However, there is always an exception to the rule. In this case, the exception is if your common law marriage was entered into before January 1, 1968.

Florida and Common Law Marriage

As mentioned, several types of marriage exist in Florida. This includes civil unions and formal marriages.

Besides these two options, couples can formalize their relationship in other ways. These options include reciprocal beneficiaries and domestic partnerships. These options provide some of the same legal rights and protections as traditional marriage but are not considered legal.

What About Common Law Marriages from Another State?

While Florida does not recognize common law marriages that originate in the state, it does recognize those that are entered into while the couple lived in another state.

The states that Florida recognizes common law marriages from include:

  • Oklahoma
  • Colorado
  • New Hampshire
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Kansas
  • D.C.
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Texas
  • South Carolina

It is important to note that each of the states mentioned has unique requirements to be considered for entering a common-law marriage. You should never assume that because you and your partner have lived together for a while in one of those states you are considered legally married.

How to Legally Marry in Florida

To legally marry in Florida, couples must comply with specific state requirements. These regulations ensure that both parties enter the union willingly and are legally eligible to do so.

Obtaining a Marriage License

The first step in legally marrying in Florida is to obtain a marriage license. Couples must apply for this license together at any county clerk’s office. Requirements include valid photo identification (like a driver’s license or passport), proof of age (applicants must be at least 18 years old, or have parental consent if younger), and the payment of a fee. If either party has been married before, they may need to provide documentation of the dissolution of the previous marriage.

Mandatory Waiting Period

Florida law mandates a three-day waiting period from the issuance of the license to the marriage ceremony for Florida residents. However, couples who complete a state-approved marriage preparation course can have this waiting period waived. For non-residents, there is no waiting period.

The Marriage Ceremony

After obtaining the license, the couple must have a marriage ceremony performed by an authorized individual, such as an ordained minister, priest, rabbi, or judge. The ceremony can occur anywhere in Florida, and the license is valid for 60 days from the issue date.

Finalizing the Marriage

Following the ceremony, the officiant must sign the marriage license and return it to the county clerk’s office. Once processed, the marriage is legally recognized in Florida, and the couple can obtain a certified copy of the marriage license as proof of their union.

Consulting a Florida Family Law Attorney

For those navigating the complexities of relationships in Florida, consulting with a family law attorney is wise. An attorney specializing in Florida family law can provide guidance on cohabitation agreements, estate planning, and other legal matters relevant to unmarried couples. Their expertise ensures that you are fully informed about your rights and options.

While common law marriage is not a recognized institution in Florida, understanding the legal framework and seeking professional guidance can provide clarity and security for your relationship. Remember, each relationship is unique, and legal advice should be tailored to individual circumstances.

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