Common Law Marriage in Florida? Fact or Myth

The other night I was meeting a few friends after work and one of the girls in the group was discussing her 15-year live-in boyfriend and called him her “Common-law husband”.  Since we live in Florida (and I am an attorney), I felt it my duty to inform her of the “common law marriage” myth in Florida.  It is, in fact, a myth in Florida. Our state does NOT recognize “common law” marriage unless it is from another state.

A “common law marriage” is one in which the parties may hold themselves out as a husband and wife, and under certain circumstances, be deemed married without a marriage license or ceremony.  Florida doesn’t have a common law marriage, however Florida does recognize common law marriages that occurred in other states.

Even then, a common law marriage is not simply “we live together for a certain amount of years”…. There are other factors that must be recognized in that particular state to be considered married via the “common law”.

Common law marriage is recognized only in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (only for inheritance)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

If you live in Florida and have a significant other, remember that unless you have specific legal documents stating your intentions, your boyfriend or girlfriend will have no legal rights over health or financial issues.  You may not want to “take the plunge,” but if you plan to stay in the relationship over the span of many years, you may want to ensure you have proper documents if you wish that person to have a say in your financial or health matters.


If you would like to learn more about Florida family laws, please contact the Moon Law Group today. The Moon Law Group serves Hillsborough (including Brandon, Tampa, New Tampa, Carrollwood, Sun City Center, and Plant City), Pinellas (St. Petersburg and Clearwater) and Pasco Counties.

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