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Does Florida recognize common law marriage? I left my career of 18 years for someone promised to take care of me forever.

Bradenton, FL |

I lived in Florida, had a great career in real estate making six figure income. I met a man 3 years ago In Florida, but he was from Maryland. We dated for about 8 months before he asked me to move to MD with him because he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He offered to pay my expenses so we could keep my house and use it as a second home. He has paid all expenses for 2 years. In Dec. he gave me a ring. We planned to marry on April 6th, but on March 29 he called off the wedding in a text message and has refused to talk to me since. I now have to start my life and career over from scratch. Am I entitled to receive any compensation for lost wages and for taking on all the household responsibilities of a wife, plus remodeling, re-landscaping, working with all contractors?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Florida DOES NOT recognize common law marriages. I am not sure about MD, which seems to be where you were living with him. You should consider posting your question in the Family Questions in Maryland.


  2. “Common-law marriage” was recognized in Florida prior to its abolition in 46 years ago. It is defined as the formation of a family by a man and a woman through an agreement to be married followed by cohabitation and other manifestations of intent to be married. All that was necessary was a declaration of consent to the creation of the relationship, coupled with some outwardly visible action such as cohabitation showing the relationship to the outside world. From what you wrote in your post, it does not sound like you boyfriend had the requisite intent to be married to you (i.e., you and he “planned to marry on April 6th”) as distinguished from an intent to marry you in the future.

    Even though Florida does not permit formation of common-law marriages, it will recognize a common-law marriage formed in another state if recognized at the time by that state's law. You will need to contact a Maryland attorney who specialized in this field. Use the “find a lawyer” link at the op of his page to help you select one.


  3. Based on the length of time, you may have a jurisdiction issue. In order to file a case in Florida you need to establish that you have been a resident for at least 6 months prior to filing your case. Now, that you live in Maryland you should seek the advice of a Maryland Attorney because Florida Law may not apply to you.

    The materials appearing on this Web site are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. You should not take action based upon this information without consulting legal counsel. This site is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon any single source of information.


  4. The vast majority of jurisdictions, including Florida, have abolished common law marriage, meaning you will not be entitled to any compensation for household responsibilities or lost wages. If you had some form of agreement between the two of you regarding services etc. (which again seems unlikely), that might be enforceable as a contract of some sort or you might have some form of estoppel or misrepresentation argument assuming you could meet the elements--which again, being realistic, just does not seem likely.

    This is not intended as legal advice nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. It is merely some suggestions to point you in the right direction since the legal world can be confusing and complex to navigate. Give me a call at 727-674-5310 if you want to set up a free consultation.


  5. These answers are substantially, but not completely correct: After 1968 you could not COMMENCE a common law marriage in Florida; however, Florida recognizes marriages if they are legal where they were contracted. So, Nebraska and about 11 other states recognize common law marriage. If the common law marriage is COMMENCED IN ONE OF THOSE states and the couple moves to Florida and want to go their separate ways, they will need a divorce in Flolirda. The rule is if the marriage is legal where contracted, then it is legal in Florida.

    I have done two divorces of common law marriages in over 40 years of distracting law: One was contracted in Brassiness, the other in Viet Nam.

    By the way, I don't think Palminoy will fly in Florida, either!