Florida Marriage Requirements

A fundamental requirement for a valid marriage in Florida is that each party must have the ‘capacity’ (the ability) to both knowledgeably and voluntarily enter into a contract, just like a regular business contract.

To marry, the parties must obtain a license and usually pay a fee. This process is also an opportunity for government officials to inquire into the capacity (discussed above) of the parties. The two parties have an opportunity to participate in a voluntary premarital preparation course which reduces the fee. Participation in the voluntary premarital preparation course also allows for the parties to waive the otherwise mandatory three-day waiting period between the license being issued and the actual ceremony.

In Florida, there must actually be a ceremony, which can be elaborate or limited. A ceremony requires an ‘officiant’ (the person who conducts the ceremony), witnesses, and an exchange of promises between the parties. The officiant may be a member of the clergy or a public official (such as a notary) who is authorized to give an oath, while the witnesses attest that the parties exchange promises.

The parties have several obligations in Florida. For example, the parties have an obligation (a duty) to support each other and also have an obligation for sexual exclusivity. But being joined in marriage does not minimize either party in a legal sense. The individual legal identity of each is maintained and each is individually liable for contracts and torts. This means there is no vicarious liability between spouses. Also, spouses can sue each other, as there is no interspousal tort immunity.

In Florida, the wife can adopt her husband’s name or keep her own name – or pursue an alternate name change through a court order (such as if she wants a hyphenated name or if the husband wants to take her name).

Consulting a legal expert before marriage protects and educates both parties and details all rights and responsibilities that come with a major life change. Hunter Law Group will help you work through any questions and concerns as you prepare to embark on a new life with your partner.

To marry, the parties must obtain a license and usually pay a fee. This process is also an opportunity for government officials to inquire into the capacity (discussed above) of the parties. The two parties have an opportunity to participate in a voluntary premarital preparation course which reduces the fee. Participation in the voluntary premarital preparation course also allows for the parties to waive the otherwise mandatory three-day waiting period between the license being issued and the actual ceremony.

In Florida, there must actually be a ceremony, which can be elaborate or limited. A ceremony requires an ‘officiant’ (the person who conducts the ceremony), witnesses, and an exchange of promises between the parties. The officiant may be a member of the clergy or a public official (such as a notary) who is authorized to give an oath, while the witnesses attest that the parties exchange promises.

The parties have several obligations in Florida. For example, the parties have an obligation (a duty) to support each other and also have an obligation for sexual exclusivity. But being joined in marriage does not minimize either party in a legal sense. The individual legal identity of each is maintained and each is individually liable for contracts and torts. This means there is no vicarious liability between spouses. Also, spouses can sue each other, as there is no interspousal tort immunity.

In Florida, the wife can adopt her husband’s name or keep her own name – or pursue an alternate name change through a court order (such as if she wants a hyphenated name or if the husband wants to take her name).

Consulting a legal expert before marriage protects and educates both parties and details all rights and responsibilities that come with a major life change. Hunter Law Group will help you work through any questions and concerns as you prepare to embark on a new life with your partner.

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