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Domestic Partners and Florida Family Law

Posted by attorney Andrew Storie

Property and Support Rights:

Florida law creates no legal rights or duties between unmarried couples who live together and therefore, there are no laws for non-married persons regarding property and support issues. Florida does not recognize the concept of palimony.

“Domestic partners" (opposite or same sex) do not enjoy the numerous rights reserved exclusively to partners in marriage which include: the right to jointly hold property as tenants by the entireties; the right to rehabilitative or permanent alimony, the right to an elective share in the estate of a deceased spouse; the right to enter into a gestational surrogacy agreement; distribution rights in homestead property; legitimacy of children born out of wedlock, upon the marriage of the parents; and certain state and federal tax benefits.

However, unmarried domestic partners may draft contracts and/or agreements regarding the benefits of their partnership that are valid under Florida law, whether of the same sexes or different sexes. Florida courts have upheld contracts awarding support payments between unmarried domestic partners. Therefore, unmarried domestic partners can create many of the same rights as held by married couples through contracts and agreements. Additionally, domestic partners may also have causes for action through equitable liens and/or constructive trusts.

Children Issues:

In Florida, non-biological “parents" have no rights to custody and visitation of their partner’s biological child no matter how close of a relationship they had with that child. Furthermore, contracts between unmarried domestic partners granting custody and visitation rights are unenforceable in Florida.

Adoption:

Unmarried couples (whether same sex or different sexes) are not allowed to jointly adopt children in the state of Florida.

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