Can I Divorce My Common Law Spouse in Florida?


It is not uncommon to hear the term of common law marriage. However, many do not understand this title to its full capacity and the legal boundaries that come with it. For example, there is a common misconception that the state of Florida recognizes common law marriages if they meet certain standards. When in fact, the state of Florida does not recognize common law marriage at all. Florida statute 741.211 states “no common law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968 shall be valid.” Therefore, if you have been holding one another out as husband and wife under the belief of being legally bound by the common law marriage ideal, 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 have believed to be recognized as common law discuss the contractual options you may want to implement between you and your partner with your Florida Divorce Attorney. This contract, may be similar to a prenuptial agreement, without the pending marriage, may allow you to acknowledge certain obligations and rights of property after a dissolution of a long term relationship that had the similarities to a marriage. Seek to protect yourself with the assistance of a Florida Divorce Attorney even if there is no marriage to dissolve.

However, one caveat to be aware of, is that Florida does recognize common law marriage 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. However, it will be necessary to first establish that your common law marriage met the standards of the state you previously lived in. For instance, similar to the state of Florida certain states have set a cut off date for the validity of common law marriage. To be recognized as a valid common law marriage in Alabama, it must have been done prior to 2017, Georgia prior to 1997, Idaho before 1996, Ohio before 1991, and Pennsylvania prior to 20015. However, in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah; they each still recognize common law marriage presently.

Depending on your state, you may need to present to the court the specific factors that qualified you as a common law married couple in that state. For instance, in Texas you must both agree and have the intention to marry, cohabitate, hold each other out as husband and wife in order to be recognized as common law married. While in New Hampshire you will need to have cohabitated and acknowledged one another as husband and wife for at least 3 years before being deemed married. Discuss the legal requirements of your previous state with your attorney and be able to gather evidence to present to the court to allow them to recognize that there is a marriage to dissolve. After recognizing the validity of your marriage, you will proceed with the divorce process just as if you had a legal marriage certificate.

If you have been common law married in Florida or any other state and have questions regarding a divorce from your spouse, contact a Florida Divorce Attorney today. We will be able to establish the bounds of your common law marriage and if the Florida courts can aid you in this complicated process.

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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