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Common Law Marriage in Florida

Common Law Marriage Florida

Common Law Marriage in Florida: Understanding the Legal Framework


Common law marriage, often shrouded in myth and misunderstanding, has been a topic of interest and confusion for many couples in Florida. As one of the few states that still recognizes common law marriage, it’s essential to navigate this legal concept correctly. This article aims to shed light on common law marriage in Florida, explaining its definition, requirements, legal status, and implications.

Defining Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage, also known as informal or non-ceremonial marriage, is a union between two individuals who have not gone through a formal marriage ceremony but have lived together as spouses for an extended period. In the eyes of the law, these couples are treated as married, despite the absence of a marriage license or ceremony.

Common Law Marriage in Florida

Florida is one of the few states that recognize common law marriage under specific circumstances. However, it’s crucial to understand that common law marriage in Florida is not as straightforward as it might seem. The state has stringent requirements that must be met for a common law marriage to be legally valid.

Requirements for a Common Law Marriage in Florida

  1. Capacity to Marry: Both parties must have the legal capacity to marry, meaning they must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Parties who are closely related by blood cannot enter into a common law marriage.
  1. Cohabitation: The couple must live together as if they were married. This involves sharing a residence, presenting themselves as a married couple, and combining their finances and resources as if they were legally married.
  1. Intent: Intent is a critical element in establishing a common law marriage in Florida. Both parties must have the mutual intent to be married. This means they must agree to be married and hold themselves out to the public as a married couple.
  1. Holding Out: Holding out refers to presenting yourselves to others as a married couple. This can include using the same last name, introducing each other as spouses, or filing joint tax returns.
  1. Time Period: There is no specific time requirement for common law marriage in Florida. While some states require a certain duration of cohabitation, Florida does not specify a minimum length of time.

Proving Common Law Marriage in Florida

Proving a common law marriage can be challenging, as there is no official marriage certificate or license to rely on. Instead, couples must provide evidence to demonstrate that they meet the criteria mentioned above. Some types of evidence that may be considered include:

  1. Witness Testimonies: Statements from friends, family members, or acquaintances who can attest to the couple’s relationship and intentions can be crucial in proving a common law marriage.
  1. Shared Finances: Providing evidence of shared bank accounts, joint ownership of property, or joint leases can help establish the financial aspect of the relationship.
  1. Social Media and Documentation: Posts on social media platforms, letters, or other written documentation where the couple refers to each other as spouses can be used as evidence.
  1. Affidavits: Both parties can create affidavits stating their mutual intent to be married and their history as a couple. These affidavits should be notarized for added credibility.
  1. Insurance and Benefits: If the couple has listed each other as beneficiaries on insurance policies or has received spousal benefits from their employer, this can be considered as evidence.

Benefits and Rights of Common Law Marriage in Florida

Once a common law marriage is established in Florida, the couple is entitled to several legal benefits and rights similar to those in a formal marriage. Some of these include:

  1. Inheritance Rights: Common law spouses are entitled to inherit from each other if one of them passes away without a will.
  1. Property Rights: In the event of a breakup, common law spouses may have a right to equitable distribution of property and assets acquired during the relationship.
  1. Healthcare and Insurance: Common law spouses may be eligible for healthcare benefits and insurance coverage through their partner’s employer.
  1. Spousal Privilege: Common law spouses can assert spousal privilege in legal proceedings, which means they cannot be compelled to testify against each other in court.
  1. Divorce: To end a common law marriage in Florida, couples must go through the legal process of divorce, just like couples in formal marriages. This involves property division, alimony, and, if applicable, child custody and support.

Common Misconceptions about Common Law Marriage

  1. Living Together Automatically Creates Common Law Marriage: Merely living together does not establish a common law marriage in Florida. The elements of mutual intent and holding out as married are crucial.
  1. Time Requirement: Unlike some states, Florida does not have a specific time requirement for common law marriage. It’s about the quality of the relationship, not the duration.
  1. Common Law Marriage is the Same as a Traditional Marriage: While common law marriage grants legal recognition, it lacks the formal ceremony and marriage license associated with traditional marriages.


Common law marriage in Florida is a complex and often misunderstood legal concept. To protect your rights and ensure your relationship is legally recognized, it’s essential to meet the state’s requirements and provide sufficient evidence of your intent and cohabitation. Common law marriage can offer benefits and protections similar to those of traditional marriages, but it also requires couples to follow the same legal processes, including divorce if the relationship ends. Understanding the intricacies of common law marriage in Florida is crucial for couples considering this unconventional route to matrimony.

Common Law Marriage in Florida Introduction:

Marriage is an important institution that has been widely accepted in many societies across the world. In Florida, marriage laws are in place to ensure that individuals who wish to get married do so in accordance with the law. However, not all couples choose to enter into a traditional marriage, and sometimes they opt for a common-law marriage instead. In this article, we will delve deeper into common-law marriage in Florida and discuss the state’s marriage laws.

Florida Marriage Laws:

Florida has specific marriage laws that are aimed at regulating and overseeing marriage in the state. The Florida Statutes Chapter 741 outlines the state’s rules on marriage and lays out the requirements for a legally recognized marriage. The statute states that “a marriage license may be issued in any county in Florida to couples who comply with the provisions of this chapter.” This means that in order to be legally married in Florida, couples must obtain a marriage license in a county of their choosing.

Furthermore, the Florida statute requires that both parties be at least 18 years old to get married without parental consent. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, minors who are 16 or 17 years of age may get married with parental consent. The statute notes that “If the parties are under the age of 18, but at least 16 years of age, a marriage license may be issued only upon the written consent of both parties’ parents or legal guardians.”

Florida law also prohibits certain types of marriage. The statute states that “Marriages which are void ab initio include, but are not limited to, marriages entered into by close blood relatives and marriages involving bigamy.” Thus, a couple who is closely related or a spouse who is already married cannot legally obtain a marriage license in Florida.

Common Law Marriage Florida:

Unlike many other states, common law marriage is not a recognized form of marriage in Florida. In 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that “the common law marriage of a Florida citizen, defined by the requirements of those jurisdictions that recognize the validity of common law marriages, is not a marriage recognized under the laws of this state.” This means that couples who reside in Florida cannot enter into a common-law marriage and have it legally recognized.

However, the court’s ruling was specific to Florida residents. It is still possible for couples who have entered into a common law marriage in another state to have their union recognized in Florida. The law states that “A marriage between persons of the same sex performed in this state or recognized by this state and a common law marriage that was validly entered into in another jurisdiction and that does not violate the strong public policy of this state shall be recognized in this state.”

It is important to note that in order for a common law marriage to be recognized by the state of Florida, it must meet the legal requirements of the state or country where it was established. This means that couples must have fulfilled all the required elements of a common law marriage in the state where they established it in order for it to be recognized in Florida.


Marriage is a legally recognized institution in Florida, and the state has specific laws in place to regulate it. Although common law marriage is not recognized in Florida, couples who have established this type of union in another state may have their marriage recognized. Understanding Florida’s marriage laws is important for couples who wish to get married or have their union recognized in the state.

Guide to Common Law Marriage in Florida

If you have been living together with a significant other for a period of years, you may wonder if you have a common-law marriage in Florida.

Some states recognize couples who have fulfilled certain requirements as being married for state-legal purposes.

This guide will discuss laws pertaining to Florida’s law of marriage and how you may be able to have a common-law marriage recognized in the state.

What Is a Common Law Marriage?

In many jurisdictions, couples who lived together for a number of years and were living “as husband and wife” (including not just sexual intercourse but also publicly—filing joint tax returns, using the same last name, and referring to each other as married) were considered to be married according to common law.

This tradition goes back centuries into English common law before the founding of the United States of America.

Common-law marriage in Florida was quite common in much of the 20th century. If people who had a common-law marriage in Florida wished to divorce, they were obligated to go through formal divorce procedures rather than just “breaking up” and dividing their property themselves. Common-law marriage in Florida also applied to inheritances and estates.

Are Common Law Marriages in Florida Recognized?

There is no way to initiate a new common law marriage in Florida. However, because common law marriage in Florida was legal until 1968, common-law marriages taking place before that year are still recognized by Florida state law.

Also, several states still recognize common-law marriages for couples who meet certain requirements, and if you were common law married in one of these states, you retain your married status upon moving to the state of Florida.

Generally, the laws governing whether you are able to be married or not are determined by the state where your marriage took place, even if the state you move to has different laws.

If you had a common-law marriage in Florida prior to 1968, other states will recognize this common law marriage from Florida as valid.

Marriage Requirements in Florida

Because common law marriage in Florida no longer exists as an option for cohabiting couples, you may want to make sure that your marriage is legally binding.

This will allow you and your spouse to have the right to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions, inherit one another’s property, and have formal divorce proceedings if you ever split up.

In order to get married in Florida officially, rather than having a common-law marriage in Florida, you will need to obtain a Florida marriage license. You can do this at your county clerk’s office for a fee of less than $100.

You will need to bring acceptable identification documents and will need to certify that neither you nor your spouse is married to anyone else. Florida does not have a required blood test or waiting period for marriages.