Articles Posted in Marriage

common law.jpgCommon law marriage, often referred to as sui juris marriage, is only recognized in twelve states; Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Texas, and Utah. The District of Columbia also recognizes common law marriages. However, you will notice, Florida is not among those states.

Florida Statute 741.211 reads as follows, “No common-law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968, shall be valid, except that nothing contained in this section shall affect any marriage which, though otherwise defective, was entered into by the party asserting such marriage in good faith and in substantial compliance with this chapter.”

Although Florida does not have common law marriage, there are instances when Florida will recognize common law marriages that occurred out of state. Contact Law Office of David M. Goldman for more information on this and other family law issues.

marriage license.jpgThe state of Florida has changed its view on common law marriage in 1967 to not allowing it. As a Florida family law attorney, I get many questions from people who have resided together as husband and wife who have never been officially married. Florida will only recognize this type of marriage if it was formed in another jurisdiction that does allow this type of marriage. In a recent case, a couple had lived as husband and wife in another country without ever having been officially married. The Florida court had to follow the laws governing marriage in the foreign country, which allowed the couple to enter into a common law marriage. If you are from a foreign jurisdiction (either another country or another U.S. state), and your “husband” or “wife” has been in an accident, it may be pressing to get a Florida court to determine that you have some marital rights. If you have a situation where you require a determination of marriage, please contact a Jacksonville family law lawyer.

premarital agreement.jpgPremarital agreements in Florida are an important tool if you wish to keep your assets private during a marriage. While such agreements may never come into play if the marriage lasts, they can be incredibly important in the event of a divorce in Florida. Florida is one of the many states that allows premarital agreements. The agreement must be voluntary as it will not be considered enforceable if it was entered into due to fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching. Additionally, the agreement must not be unconscionable. These are all issues that are decided by the court in the event the agreement is challenged. In fact, such agreements are challenged and often! If you are thinking about utilizing a premarital agreement in Florida in your marriage, or you wish to challenge a premarital agreement that you’ve already entered into, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney today.

morality.jpgMorality clauses used to be popular in the South. These clauses were included in a Judge’s divorce order and usually required one or both of the divorcing parents to take some action (or refrain from taking some action). For example, a common morality clause was to require that a woman not have any male overnight guests unless that person was a direct relative or married to the woman.

Nowadays, these clauses are less common and extremely difficult to enforce. While you and your former spouse may agree to include such a clause, the court will not likely enforce it. If your divorce had a morality clause and you are trying to gain custody of your child because your former spouse violated the terms of the clause, the court will not likely enforce the clause based simply on the fact that the other party violated its terms. Instead the court will focus on whether or not the child was actually harmed by the overnight guest (or any other violation of the clause).

Courts have stated that they consider the child’s (or children’s) welfare more than anything else in a custody proceeding. So, if you cannot show that your former spouse is endangering your child’s welfare, the court will not likely uphold a morality clause.

cheating.jpegFlorida is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning that either spouse may seek a divorce without showing cause for the desired separation. The spouse seeking a divorce has the option to simply claim the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Generally, Florida courts are not concerned with which party played the greater role in causing the divorce.

As a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney, I am often asked how a cheating spouse factors into a divorce in Florida. While adulterous conduct does not factor into the court’s decision to grant a divorce, it can impact other important issues raised in a divorce.

In child custody battles, a court considers the “moral fitness” of a parent seeking custody. Evidence of adulterous conduct can lower a party’s level of “moral fitness,” and decrease his or her chances of receiving custody. However, it is not an absolute bar to child custody. Often times, a larger impact will be whether the adultery had an adverse impact on the child.

old young marriage.jpegYou might’ve heard that Hugh Hefner is getting married — yet again — at the end of this week. Keep in mind that Hugh is 85 years old and is engaged to a 24-year-old former Playmate. In other words, Hugh was a little over 60 when his soon-to-be wife was born. While it’s not really the purpose of this blog to criticize Mr. Hefner’s lifestyle, one could reasonably question his bride-to-be’s motives.

As our population grows older, you may hear more stories about “predatory marriage”. This is when a younger — usually much younger — person marries an older person without the family’s knowledge. When the person dies, his or her new spouse emerges on the Will as the beneficiary to assets that should otherwise go to the family. For example, in one extreme case, an adult daughter left her elderly father with a family friend while the daughter went on a weeklong vacation. In that week, the family friend married the woman’s father, transferred some of his assets to a joint account, and named herself his pension beneficiary. The man’s children found out about the marriage a month later; when they asked him about it, he couldn’t remember anything about the arrangement.

In many states, such arrangements are difficult to challenge as inheritance rights of widows and widowers often trump estate-planning documents. In a few states, however, courts and legislators are trying to make it easier for families to challenge these predatory marriages. Florida is one such state; last year, a law was passed that allows heirs to challenge any marriage, even after a spouse’s death, on the ground of fraud, duress, or undue influence. Such statutes often have legal implications regarding the Constitutional right to marry; however, Florida’s law does not infringe that right but instead alters the property rights associated with marriage.

wedding.pngFlorida Law is very specific as to when a marriage license may be issued to persons under 18 years of age. Generally, a minor must be at least 16 years old and obtain written parental consent before a marriage license will be issued. For minors under the age of 16, marriage licenses will not be granted even with the consent of the parents.

However, there are exceptions if a child is involved. For instance, if two minors already have a child, they may petition a County Court Judge to issue a marriage license by submitting an application confirming under oath that they are the parents of a child. Additionally, if a minor’s pregnancy is verified by the written statement of a licensed physician, the County Court Judge may, at his or her discretion, issue a license to marry.

Additional exceptions can be complicated and are often determined on a case by case basis. Should you have any questions relating to a teenage marriage and/or teenage pregnancy, feel free to contact me a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney today.

images.jpgIn a stunning announcement the Obama Administration just announced that it will no longer enforce a federal law barring gay marriage.

In Florida, a constitutional amendment which bans same-sex marriages passed with 61% of the vote. Florida has adopted DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as state law. DOMA, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, effectively denies access to marriage-based federal benefits by same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take a California case challenging that state’s defense of marriage initiative. If the Court rules that the California law violates the equal protection clause, then all bets are off.

marriage counselor.jpgA new North Dakota bill is getting a lot of attention in the North Dakota legislature, as it is proposing mandatory marriage counseling in all divorce cases. The drafters of the bill want all married couples, with the exemption of cases with substantiated allegations of domestic abuse, to wait one year to get a divorce while they attend mandatory marriage counseling.


Florida does not require mandatory marriage counseling when a married couple is seeking to obtain a divorce. Instead, in Florida the Court may refer parties to mediation in cases where parental responsibility, primary residence, timesharing, or child support are contested.

To find out more about what Florida courts require in regards to divorce proceedings contact a Neptune Beach Divorce Attorney.

Jacksonville gay marriage proponents waiting for the oral arguments over California’s Proposition 8. Over the summer, a district judge held the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and since August 16th the law has been on hold. Read more about the California panel of judges that will be hearing oral arguments in this case.

As Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages, Jacksonville gay and lesbian families would do well to consult with a Florida Gay and Lesbian Family Law Attorney who can provide information about the various legal documents that create marriage like agreements. Whether they are called domestic partnership agreements, living together contracts or something else, these documents reflect the intentions that you and your partner have towards issues such as title of real and personal property, property owned before the relationship began and property either or both of you accumulate during the relationship.

Agreements which memorialize Jacksonville gay and lesbian relationships are contracts. Traditional contract considerations such as intent, capacity to enter into a contract as well as other considerations must be met. As these contracts create enforceable legal rights, it is best to discuss what you want to achieve, and obtain advice from a Jacksonville gay and lesbian friendly law firm for important issues to consider, and clauses to include in any written legal document.

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