Legal Guidance For Unmarried Couples
In Florida, marriage automatically confers many legal rights to the married couple, including rights to shared property and financial assets. Straight and same-sex couples who are unmarried have fewer automatically conferred rights. Nevertheless, individuals who live together may still exercise essential rights under Florida family law.
Stuart N. House, P.A., provides legal advice and assistance to couples throughout South Florida who are thinking of cohabiting and need to set up legal ground rules before moving in together. Attorney Stuart House also represents clients who cohabitate and need to protect or enforce their rights in a dispute during or after a breakup.
Domestic Partnerships Have Limits
But what about, Florida unmarried couples living together? Only certain counties and cities in Florida recognize same-sex domestic partnerships. This means a domestic partnership ratified in Miami might not have the same legal standing in Fort Lauderdale, and no standing at all in Boca Raton. While domestic partnerships’ status may change in the future, they currently lack the legal weight of marriage.
Additionally, not all domestic partnerships are available to heterosexual couples. That is the bad news for cohabiting couples. The good news is that legal agreements, commonly known as cohabitation agreements, can memorialize many of the same rights married couples enjoy.
A Cohabitation Agreement Can Protect Your Rights
A cohabitation agreement can establish the understanding and rights two people can consent to through a legal contract.
For instance, a cohabitation agreement can:
- Provide joint access to financial accounts and retirement savings
- Establish powers of attorney for health care decisions and end-of-life care
- Bestow inheritance rights onto your partner and/or your partner’s children
- Determine who will get what assets if the relationship ends
Officials cannot use cohabitation agreements to sign away your civil rights, such as access to your legal children, or to establish a new romantic relationship in the future. However, these agreements are powerful tools when crafted and enforced by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.