If you live in Florida and you cohabitate with a girlfriend, you may hear people say that you will have a common-law marriage if you aren’t careful. However, in Florida there is no such thing as a common-law marriage, unless it is from another state that recognizes common-law marriages.
The applicable Florida Statute provides as follows:
No common-law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968, shall be valid, except that nothing contained in this section shall affect any marriage which, though otherwise defective, was entered into by the party asserting such marriage in good faith and in substantial compliance with this chapter.
A common-law marriage occurs when the parties act and hold themselves out as husband and wife, even though they are not legally married. Examples of actions that may result in a common-law marriage in states that recognize them include living together, filing joint tax returns, calling each other wife and husband, taking the other’s last name, or listing the loved one as a spouse on official documents.
Common law marriage is recognized only in the following states:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire (only for inheritance)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Since Florida does not recognize common-law marriages, it is important to understand that your loved one will not have any legal rights over your medical or financial decisions without legal documents stating your intentions. If you do not want to get legally married to your girlfriend but you want to ensure that she is protected and/or can protect you when necessary, it is essential to complete the proper documentation.
Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at the Men’s Divorce Law Firm. Our office is located in Orlando, Florida, but we proudly serve husbands and fathers across the State.