Common Law Marriage & Cohabitation Agreements
A common law marriage refers to a couple that lives together and presents as married to the people around them. It is different from a formal marriage in that the couple never received a marriage license.
Currently, the District of Columbia and 10 states recognize common law marriage. Florida only recognizes common law marriages that were entered into before January 1, 1968. This is because common law marriage was made invalid on that date.
Couples in a common law marriage can enjoy the same benefits as couples in a formal marriage. These benefits include:
- eligibility to receive Social Security benefits;
- eligibility for their spouse’s employer benefits;
- exemption from gift taxes;
- unlimited marital exemptions for their estate;
- deductions for mortgage interest;
- inheritance of their spouse’s property; and/or
- use of medical power of attorney.
Because common law marriages are so rare in Florida, it is easy for the public to misunderstand the relationship. If institutions or lawyers do not recognize your partner as your spouse, your partner could be left out of critical decisions regarding finances and the distribution of property. To avoid these issues, common law spouses should consider creating a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is a legal document recognized by Florida courts. It is created to ensure both parties are protected when the relationship ends (either by choice or death).
Cohabitation agreements generally address:
- shared property and who is responsible for the mortgage;
- who is responsible for rent;
- how the property will be divided if the relationship ends;
- who pays specific bills;
- custody and visitation rights;
- who will pay child support;
- who is responsible for certain debts;
- who is required to pay the other party spousal support; and/or
- whether disputes require mediation.
Handling Common Law Issues
If you are in a common law marriage and are having issues getting legal recognition, our common law marriage attorney is on your side. You are entitled to the same rights as a traditionally married couple and we will defend those rights on your behalf.
Contact our firm online or give us a call at (727) 312-1112 for your consultation.