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Florida Cohabitation – What’s Mine Isn’t Legally Yours

CohabitationDid you know Florida is only one of three remaining states where it is illegal to live together as an unmarried couple under the “lewd and lascivious behavior” statute.  The statute has been on the books since 1868 but is rarely enforced; however violators could receive a $500 fine, 60 days in jail and a misdemeanor on their record!

The original statute was established when laws were influenced by religion and scripture and living together out of wedlock was a sin.  Times have changed.  Should the statute change too?

According to the 2000 Census, the number of unmarried couples increased tenfold from 1960 to 2000. While it seems to be an attractive lifestyle, there are some consequences that may be associated with cohabitation:

  • Reduction or termination of spousal support if in a supportive relationship
  • Custody/timesharing determinations can be made or changed if a judge finds the living situation is not positive for a child.
  • What’s mine is not legally yours – unless the couple jointly owns property or bank accounts, unmarried couples are not automatically entitled to their partners’ finances, children, life insurance and retirement benefits.
  • Health decisions cannot be made by a partner unless otherwise documented.

Asset protection and estate planning are the best ways to ensure your wishes are carried out in the case of incapacitation and death.  A will or trust is the best gift a person can give your survivors as they will not have to second guess what you would want during a medical emergency or how your possessions are to be distributed.  Designations should be made with a sound mind and heart as there is no substitute for planning before an unexpected event happens.

There is no substitute for experience.

Ronald A. Luzim, a former estate and tax attorney with the IRS has been practicing law since 1974 and specializes not only in estate planning but real estate, family law, asset protection and bankruptcy.  Please contact his Coral Springs office at 954-755-1500 for assistance in protecting yourself, family and property.