Although abolished in Florida in 1968, common law marriage is still legally binding in many other states.
A common law marriage, that was formed in and recognized in another state, may still be legally binding here in Florida if either one or both of the parties move to Florida.
Common law and statutory marriage have the following characteristics in common:
Both parties must freely consent to the marriage
Both parties must be of legal age to contract a marriage or have parental consent to marry
Neither party may be under a disability that prevents him or her from entering into a valid marriage – e.g. they must both be of sound mind, neither of them can be currently married (except in Saskatchewan), and some jurisdictions do not permit prisoners to marry.
Otherwise, common law marriage differs from statutory marriage as follows:
There is no marriage license issued by a government and no marriage certificate filed with a government
There is no formal ceremony to solemnize the marriage before witnesses
The parties must hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife (this is not a requirement of statutory marriage)
Most jurisdictions require the parties to be cohabiting at the time the common law marriage is formed. Some require cohabitation to last a certain length of time (e.g. three years) for the marriage to be valid. But cohabitation alone does not create a marriage. The parties must intend their relationship to be, and to be regarded as, a legally valid marriage.
If you are unsure of the legality of your out of state common law marriage or are concerned about your rights under Florida law, contract the Law Office of Andrew G. Storie. We have the experience to answer your questions and provide you with options to protect your rights. We serve Orlando and all of Central Florida. Conveniently located in Altamonte Springs, we offer free parking.