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Does Florida Have Common Law Marriage?

Introduction

Common law marriage is a legal concept that recognizes a couple as married without them having gone through a formal ceremony or obtained a marriage license. While common law marriage is recognized in some states, it is important to understand that Florida does not have common law marriage.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is a legal doctrine that allows couples to be recognized as married by meeting certain criteria, even if they have not obtained a marriage license or had a formal wedding ceremony. The requirements for common law marriage vary by state, but typically involve the couple living together for a significant period of time, presenting themselves as married, and intending to be married.

States That Recognize Common Law Marriage

Although Florida does not recognize common law marriage, it is important to note that some states do. As of 2021, the following states recognize common law marriage:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

It is important to consult the specific laws of each state to determine the requirements for common law marriage.

Marriage Requirements in Florida

In order to be legally married in Florida, couples must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk’s office. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, or have parental consent if they are between the ages of 16 and 17. The couple must also provide valid identification and pay the required fee.

Florida also has a waiting period of three days after obtaining the marriage license before the ceremony can take place. However, this waiting period can be waived if the couple completes a premarital preparation course approved by the state.

Legal Protections for Unmarried Couples

While common law marriage is not recognized in Florida, it is important for unmarried couples to understand their legal rights and protections. In Florida, unmarried couples can enter into a domestic partnership agreement to establish legal rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples.

A domestic partnership agreement can address issues such as property rights, financial responsibilities, and healthcare decision-making. It is recommended that unmarried couples consult with an attorney to draft a domestic partnership agreement that meets their specific needs and circumstances.

Conclusion

Although common law marriage is not recognized in Florida, it is important for couples to understand the legal requirements for marriage in the state. Obtaining a marriage license and having a formal ceremony are necessary to establish a legal marriage in Florida. Unmarried couples can still protect their rights and establish legal protections through a domestic partnership agreement. Consulting with an attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action for couples in Florida.

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