Can I Divorce My Common Law Spouse in Florida?

Judge’s Gavel Next to Wedding Rings

Defining Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is the legally binding marriage of two people who have met a particular requirement through many years of coupling. If these requirements are met in certain states the couple is legally married and given the rights of a married couple without needing a formal ceremony or license.

While the specific requirements vary by state, the most common requirements include:

  • Must Have Lived Together for a Certain Amount of Time (Time Varies by State)
  • Must Be Legally Allowed to Marry - Not Married to Another, 18 Years or Older, & is Mentally Competent
  • Both Parties Must Willingly Be Intending to Marry
  • Must Follow the Patterns of a Typical Married Couple - Referring to Each Other As Husband/Wife When with Friends/Family, Holding Joint Financial Accounts, Presenting the Same Last Name, Etc.

Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriages?

According to Florida statute 741.211 “no common law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968 shall be valid.” Which means that if you can prove you were married through common law before 1968 then you can receive all the rights of a married couple as well as the right to divorce as a married couple.

However, if you have been holding one another out as husband and wife under the belief of being legally bound by the common law marriage following 1968 and now wish to divorce your partner the court will be unable to do so as there is no legally binding marriage to dissolve. If you are in a relationship that you believe is recognized as a common law marriage, discuss all options you may want to implement between you and your partner with our Florida Divorce Attorney.

Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriages from Other States?

While Florida no longer recognizes common law marriages it does recognize common law marriages established in other states. Therefore, if you were common law married in another state and moved to Florida and now wish to divorce your common law partner the court may take jurisdiction over this matter and recognize it as a valid marriage.

States the recognize common law marriages include:

  • DC
  • Utah
  • Kansas
  • Rhode Island
  • Montana
  • Colorado
  • South Carolina
  • Iowa
  • Texas - AKA - Informal Marriage

However, it will also be necessary to establish that your common law marriage met the standards of the state you previously lived in because some states like Florida have limited recognition of common law marriages which could make your marriage invalid:

  • Valid common law marriages in Oklahoma include those prior to 1998
  • Valid common law marriages in Georgia include those prior to 1997
  • Valid common law marriages in Idaho include those prior to 1996
  • Valid common law marriages in Ohio include those prior to 1991
  • Valid common law marriages in Pennsylvania include those prior to 2005
  • Valid common law marriages in New Hampshire include those for inheritance purposes ONLY

Common Law Marriage Divorce Process

To begin the common law marriage process you must discuss the specifics of your marriage with an attorney. After reviewing the legal requirements of Florida or your previous state with you, your attorney can assist in gathering evidence to present to the court. Following the presentation of the evidence the divorce court may legally recognize your marriage as something able to dissolve. You will then be able to proceed with the divorce process just as if you had a legal marriage certificate allowing each party the right to acknowledge certain obligations and rights to property.

It is always important to protect yourself when filing for a divorce even if it is a common law marriage. We can help you establish the bounds of your common law marriage and the rights you possess when separating from your long term relationship.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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