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Florida Family Law Overview for Unmarried Couples


There was a time when marriage was the traditional way of starting and growing a family, with financial and socioeconomic factors driving the trend. Today, many couples live together and enjoy healthy, thriving relationships without ever getting married. The US Census Bureau reports that the number of unmarried partners living together almost tripled from 1996 to 2017. There are more than 17 million people who cohabitate, comprising around 7 percent of the total population.

Just as married couples may go through struggles, unmarried partners may decide to put an end to their relationship. As you might expect, Florida divorce laws do not provide the same rights and protections to spouses because they are not legally married. A Dade City family law attorney can explain the most important topics for your situation, as well as considerations about a cohabitation agreement.

 Florida Laws for Unmarried Couples: Because the divorce laws do not apply to people who are ending a cohabitation relationship, you should understand your rights in the three key areas of divorce:

  1. Property Division: The assets each party brings to the household belong to them individually, as do items you acquire with your income during your relationship. The only property that will be divided are assets titled in both names, such as a home or joint bank accounts.
  1. Alimony: There is no right to spousal support between unmarried parties, even when one might have left the workforce or sacrificed educational and employment opportunities to support the household.
  1. Issues Related to Minor Children: Cohabiting parents are in the same position as married couples when it comes to child custody, parenting time, and support. Both parents have rights and responsibilities to minor children regardless of their relationship with each other. However it is important to legally establish paternity.

Allocation of parental decision making and parenting time are determined in accordance with the child’s best interests. Support works according to state statutory guidelines, which are based upon an income shares model.

 Consider a Cohabitation Agreement: Marriage is a contract in the legal sense, and unmarried individuals have the authority to enter into agreements in the same way. To protect your family and future, it is wise to review options for a cohabitation agreement. These contracts are binding and similar to a prenuptial agreement, since the parties outline what happens if they end their relationship.

In a cohabitation agreement, you can create lists of separate and shared property, and then create a formula for how to divide them. You can even include provisions on spousal support where appropriate, but issues related to minor children are covered under Florida law.

 Get Help from a Skilled Florida Family Lawyer

You gain protections as a parent regardless of marital status, but it is important to know the areas where unmarried couples could put their rights at risk. To learn more about options on cohabitation agreements, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane in Dade City, FL. You can call 352-567-0055 or go online to set up a consultation. Our team serves clients throughout Pasco County in a wide range of family law cases, so we are prepared to advise you.



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