No one wants to think about the possibility of their partner cheating, especially in a common law marriage. It can be an incredibly difficult and emotional situation to handle, especially in the state of Florida. This is why it’s important to understand the legal implications of a cheating partner in a common law marriage. It’s important to know what the rights of both parties are and the legal consequences of the situation.
Learning how to handle a cheating partner in a common law marriage in Florida can help protect both parties, as well as ensure a smooth transition should a dissolution of the marriage become necessary.
What is a common law marriage in Florida?
A common law marriage in Florida is a type of non-marital relationship in which the parties are considered married, even though they did not go through a formal marriage ceremony. Florida does not recognize common law marriage, but it does recognize certain aspects of it.
For example, if two individuals have been in a relationship for 7 years, there’s a chance that the courts will consider them as if they were married under the doctrine of “equitable estoppel.” There are certain requirements for a common law marriage in Florida, and if the couple meets them, they could be considered married.
To begin with, two people who are not married to each other can enter into a common law marriage if they satisfy certain conditions. They must have:
- lived together in Florida as spouses for a continuous period of at least 5 years; or
How is adultery defined in Florida law?
Adultery is a legal term that refers to any act of sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their spouse. An extramarital affair between unmarried people isn’t adultery. While adultery can have serious consequences, particularly in divorce cases, neither party in a common law marriage is entitled to a divorce based on their partner’s adultery.
If a married person commits adultery, they can be sued by their spouse for divorce on the grounds of “constructive desertion.” Constructive desertion occurs when a spouse engages in wrongful conduct that makes cohabitation unsafe or unsuitable, such as domestic violence or sexual abuse. In order to sue for divorce on the grounds of constructive desertion, the non-offending spouse must live apart from the offending spouse for at least 12 months.
The legal consequences of adultery in a common law marriage in Florida
While the consequences depend on the specific facts of each case, adultery in a common law relationship may entitle the wronged spouse to: spousal support, equitable distribution, attorney’s fees, and an injunction against the adulterous spouse to prevent future adultery.
Adultery is generally considered a significant factor in determining spousal support and equitable distribution in a common law marriage. There is no specific formula for calculating the amount of support in every case, but adultery and other factors may increase the length of time a spouse is entitled to financial assistance. The spouse seeking support has the burden of proving the amount of support they are entitled to.
The rights of both parties in a common law marriage
If a committed relationship enters into a common law marriage, as soon as one of the parties cheats, the other party has the right to sue for a divorce. The individual who was cheated on has every right to file for divorce if the relationship was serious enough and followed the requirements for a common law marriage.
The individual who was cheated on does not have to attempt to repair the relationship, as is often the case in divorces where there is no cheating involved. In fact, the individual who was cheated on does not even have to provide a reason for the divorce.
How to handle a cheating partner in a common law marriage
If you don’t want to end up in a messy divorce, try to work out your feelings. Make sure you have a good therapist you can talk to before you decide to end the relationship.
If you decide to end the relationship, make sure to do so in person. Ending the relationship over the phone or through text, even if it’s done with the best of intentions, can be seen as very insensitive. While you shouldn’t allow their cheating to affect your decision to end the relationship, you also shouldn’t rush into ending the relationship.
If you decide to end the relationship, try to avoid going to the courthouse for the divorce petition. Instead, try to meet with your partner in a civil and calm manner. Divorce is usually a very expensive process, and it’s better to avoid an expensive legal battle if possible. It’s also important to protect your assets as well as possible during this time.
If you decide to divorce, hire a lawyer. It’s important to create a proper legal document to protect your assets during this time.
Tips for dealing with a cheating partner in a common law marriage
- Remember that the cheating does not reflect on you. Even if the relationship was common law and the cheating partner is entitled to a divorce, the cheating does not change the fact that you are a good person who didn’t deserve the treatment they received.
- Remember that you are not alone. There are many people who have been through this, even if you don’t know they have. You can talk to friends and family or seek professional support if you feel like you need help dealing with this situation.
- Don’t try to confront the cheating partner. While you might want to confront them about their cheating and tell them how you feel about it, it’s usually better to keep your distance.
- Don’t attempt to change the cheating partner’s mind. If they want to end the relationship with you, they will end it. Whether you think they’re making a mistake or not, they have to be the one to make the decision.
- Keep your finances separate from the relationship. If you’re with a common law partner, make sure you keep your finances separate from theirs. This will help you avoid being financially responsible for their debts if they decide to break up with you.
How to protect yourself and your assets in a common law marriage
If you enter a common law marriage, make sure you have a prenuptial agreement in place. This will help protect you from losing a significant amount of assets if the relationship ends. If you enter a relationship with a significant amount of assets, it may be a good idea to have a joint-ownership agreement. This can help protect both parties if one party is sued for negligence or breach of contract.
If you have children with the other party, make sure you have a parenting plan in place that details how you will care for your children and what happens in the event of your death or divorce. These are just a few of the many ways in which you can protect yourself and your assets in a common law relationship.
What to do if you decide to dissolve the marriage
If you do decide to dissolve the relationship, make sure you have a lawyer and that you and your partner sign a dissolution agreement. This will protect you, your partner, and your assets. It’s also a good idea to write a letter to your partner explaining how you feel. Even if you decide to end the relationship, it can be helpful to put your feelings on paper.
Not only can it help you process and deal with those feelings, but it can also be a gift to your partner that can help them move on from the relationship. You may also want to consider creating a separation agreement that details the terms of how you’re going to live apart from each other.
Lastly: Where to seek help and support
- A therapist – Even if you don’t want to talk about the relationship, you can still benefit from therapy if you feel like you’re struggling with the situation. Therapy can help you deal with the emotions you’re feeling and work through them in a healthy way.
- Support groups – You can find support groups for people who have been involved in a common law relationship and have decided to end the relationship, as well as those who are currently in one.
- An attorney – If you’re going through a divorce because of the common law relationship, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that you’re protected as best possible.