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Common Law Marriage

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What is the name of your state? Florida

My lady friend has four children and her common law husband died 2 months ago. They where toguether 5 years. Well, the guy was very well off. There are hundred of thousands of dollars sitting in the bank, 5 vehicles, a boat, a house and an apartment on the beach. The problem is that everything is on his name. Like I said, they where never married but all the kids carry his last name, all them are his. His family, sisters, mother etc...are interested on his finances, they want a piece of the pie. She does not know what to do and I am not a lawyer. I told her to get a lawyer but she would like to know where she stands. Any advise?


Senior Member
If your 'friend' lives in Florida, that state does NOT recognize common law marriage.

Common law marriage is recognized only in the following states:
-District of Columbia
-Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
-Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
-New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
-Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
-Rhode Island
-South Carolina

As such, she does not have rights of beneficiary without being listed in her will.
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Clear that up please

So that means his family gets everything if there is no will. What about the kids?


No , it doesn't mean the family gets everything... but a will would have made things easier for her if she had been named a beneficiary. The children are his heirs so they will be taken care of. It is hard to believe that a "very well-off man" had four young children with a woman he wasn't married and had no will.... but you are right: "The future has a habit of arriving ahead of time".

Your friend needs to educate herself. Start with this forum and do a simple search of "common-law marriage". Valuable information will be found there. Florida is not a common-law state... but there are often ways in cases like this to prove common-law marriage, if they were both single (not married to someone else and were "free" to marry).

Proving "common-law" is not easy and becomes even more difficult if the estate is a large one (over $1,000,000). Did she and her childrens' father ever spend time in a common-law state? Did they indeed agree to be married to one another? Did she go by his last name? Did he introduce her to others as "my wife"? Did they file income tax as: married filing jointly? Was she on his insurance at work? Did his family refer to her as their daughter-in-law? These are the questions the courts will ask when deciding whether they were married. Who handled the funeral arrangements and paid for such?

These are just a few things that may help (or hurt) her case... but if your "lady friend " is more than a "friend"- I believe you are a liability.

Jetx is right...she does not have any rights to "his assets". She needs a lawyer- but she'll be a better client if she does some research first and is able to ask intelligent questions and not just emotional ones.

I'm not an attorney... just someone who learned the hard way that the "choices we make in life...can have unforeseen consequences in death."
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I just found out that the lady and her 4 children are living from wellfare and the sister of the deseased took control of his fortune!!!!!!

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