In Florida, marriage automatically confers many legal rights to the married couple, including rights to shared property and financial assets. Straight couples who are unmarried as well as gay and lesbian couples who are not yet legally able to marry their partners of choice have fewer automatically conferred rights. Nevertheless, individuals who live together may still exercise important rights under the 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.
Although certain counties and cities in Florida recognize same-sex domestic partnerships that confer certain rights to couples who register, these rights may only be recognized within the jurisdictions in which the domestic partnership was declared. 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 the status of domestic partnerships may change in the future, they currently lack the legal weight of a marriage.
In addition, 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 that married couples enjoy.
A cohabitation agreement can establish the understanding and rights two people can consent to through a legal contract. For instance, a cohabitation agreement can:
Cohabitation agreements cannot be used 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.