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Are common law marriages valid in Florida?

While common law marriages were fairly common in the 19th and even 20th centuries, these marriage are no longer considered valid in every state. In 1877, the Supreme Court ruled that it was up to individual states to decide if they wanted to prohibit common law marriage. As of 1968, Florida no longer recognizes common law marriages as legally valid. This includes marriages that originated in a different state that do still recognize common law marriages.

If the marriage was established prior to 1968, however, it will still have legal standing in Florida, provided it has all of the elements of a common law marriage. These include both parties being free to marry and not obligated to any other present marriages, agreeing to the marriage of their own free will and living together as husband and wife.

Those with common law marriages who end up seeking a divorce may be confused about their options or how their cases will be handled in the courts. Because these couples will have been married for many decades, they are likely to have built up a significant amount of assets, and alimony or property division may be factors. Talking with a family law attorney can help you better understand how the Florida laws apply to these cases.

Those who have been living together for many years but never officially married may also have questions about what their rights are who gets what after the separation. While these relationships will not fall under the property division and divorce laws, mediation and other legal avenues may still be options.

Source: Social Security Administration, "State Laws on Validity of Common-Law (Non-Ceremonial) Marriages," accessed April. 06, 2015

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