Your decision to cohabitate with your romantic partner in Plantation rather than to marry is one that is becoming increasingly shared throughout the rest of the U.S. You may have a valid reason not to marry, yet you should also be aware that not doing so could deprive you and/or your partner of certain spousal rights (regardless of whether or not you consider him or her to be your spouse). Many have come to us here at The Minaya Law Offices, PLLC unaware of this fact (and only after having encountered a situation that revealed it). This may prompt you to ask whether Florida recognizes common law marriages at all.
According to state law, the answer to that question is no. Section 741.211 of the Florida Statutes clearly says that the state does not view such marriages as being legally valid. Thus, when you are not legally married to your partner, you could be kept from making certain financial decisions with him or her, as well as being deprived to have a say in his or her health care treatment. At the same time, however, Florida does recognize common law marriages that were validated in other states. Currently, only 13 states recognize common law marriage, including:
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- District of Columbia
If you were declared married under common law in any of these and the other states which allow such marriages, you will have the same rights and privileges as any spouse in Florida.
You can even have them if you are a lifelong Florida resident with careful planning. You simply need to ensure that you and your partner create legal documents providing benefits and decision-making powers to each other.
More information on dealing with unmarried couple issues can be found here on our site.