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 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 rights 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.