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Does Florida law allow common law marriages?

If you've ever lived in another state or are interested in the legal system, then you know that laws vary from state to state. What is allowed or not allowed in one state may be a completely different story in another state. In areas like family law, this can create problems because it can result in misunderstandings or even complex legal issues that may require the help of a skilled lawyer later on.

Take for example common law marriages. These types of unions have been around since 1877 and typically refer to couples who consider themselves to be husband and wife but have not had a ceremony or obtained a marriage license. Because these types of legal unions are recognized in several states across the nation, some of our Hillsborough County readers may be wondering: does Florida law allow common law marriages?

If you didn't already know, the answer to this question is no. This is because of Section 741.211 of our state's statutes which explains that any "common law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968" in the state of Florida is not considered valid. Though the statute does not state it specifically, a common law marriage may be recognized here in Florida if the couple was granted such a union in another state that recognizes this type of union as legal.

If a couple assumes that Florida grants common law marriages when it fact it does not, things could get complicated in the event that the couple wants a divorce. Just like in a legal marriage, assets and debts will still need to be divided; and if the couple has children, custody and visitation arrangements will need to be made. But if the union is not considered legal, a couple may be left with a number of questions that cannot be easily answered with the help of a skilled family law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Common Law Marriage: The Basics," Accessed Jan. 28, 2015

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