Legal Guide

Family Law In Florida If You’re Not Married

Many people get into serious committed relationships without needing the state to recognize that marriage in an official ceremony.  These people buy property, insure each other, have children and live fully integrated lives without being married.  How do people in Florida who aren’t married divide their lives when their relationships are finally over.

Common Law Marriage in Florida.

There is no common law marriage in Florida.  While some states still say “if you live like husband and wife for X years we’ll just treat you as though you were formally married,” Florida is not one of them.  In Florida, you’re not married until you’re married.

But, if you lived in one of those common law marriage states and got defacto married under the common law of that state, then you will be deemed married in Florida.  In this case, you have to get a divorce like everyone else in Florida.

Division of Assets When You Are Unmarried In Florida

If you’re not married in Florida and you end your relationship, no matter how intimate that relationship was you will walk away from a relationship with the assets in your name or possession.

If there’s an asset that is in both of your names or possession than you’ll have to divide those assets via

Child Custody When You’re Unmarried In Florida.

Unmarried couples in Florida use the exact same laws that married people use in determining child custody and parenting time issues. 

The same courts that handle divorce also resolve parenting and all other family law disputes in Florida. 

When it comes to children, Florida courts make all of their decisions based on the “best interests of the child” standard.  Those courts make no practical or legal distinction between children from married parents or unmarried parents.  All the courts want is what is best for the children.

Child Support When You Are Unmarried in Florida

Child support is handled without regard to marriage.  Because child support doesn’t even consider assets, marital or otherwise, marriage has no impact on the calculation.

In Florida, child support is determined via imputing incomes, expenses and the child’s overnights with each parent into an official calculator.  The Florida family law court will agree with the calculator unless it finds great reasons to do otherwise.

Children’s Expenses Between Unmarried Couples in Florida.

While child support is designed to cover the non-direct essential expenses of the child: food, shelter, heat, clothing, etc, we all know that kids cost a lot more than that.  Daycare, health expenses and extracurricular expenses are usually divided by the parents in proportion to their respective incomes whether the parents were ever married or not. 

How Can You Get The Security Of Marriage Without Actually Being Married?

There are lots of ways you can get almost all of the benefit of marriage without actually being married.  Same sex couples had to employ these techniques for decades before they were finally allowed to be married.

You can include the person in your will the same way you would a spouse.

One person can adopt the other person (even as an adult).  This allows for certain benefits a natural child would have under the law (usually for insurance purposes).

You can name your partner as your 401k beneficiary or the beneficiary of any account that you have.

You can get a life insurance policy and name your partner as your beneficiary. 

You can even enter into a contract specifying exactly what the nature of your relationship is what you promise to each other.  The only catch with these contracts is that the contract cannot be one-sided.  Both people have to make promises to each other in order for their to be “consideration” as required under contract law.

Russell Knight is a Family Law Attorney in Naples Florida.

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