The state of Florida does not grant domestic partnerships, or common-law marriages formed after 1968, the same status and rights of a legally married couple.

A domestic partnership is a long-term, committed and exclusive relationship where two individuals are financially interdependent. The partners can be same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Some same-sex couples formed domestic partnerships because they were denied the right to marry in many states. But a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 decided that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same right to marry as opposite-sex couples.

A few Florida counties and cities had recognized domestic partnerships and granted them some of the same rights that legally married couples enjoy. But most Florida counties and cities did not.

Two people living together in a “marriage” like situation for many years without a marriage license or ceremony are sometimes considered to have entered into a common-law marriage and can obtain some rights in some states. But not in Florida if the relationship began after 1968.

That means domestic partners or couples living together without a marriage license do not have automatic rights of inheritance or survivor benefits if their partner dies. They must have a valid will designating their partner as heir. Otherwise, their deceased partner’s family will inherit the entire estate.

Both partners should also have legal and medical powers of attorney in case one of them becomes physically or mentally incapacitated.

There are also legal steps available to ensure joint property goes to the surviving partner.

If you or a loved one is in a domestic partnership and need legal counsel or representation, we encourage you to contact us today. The Curry Law Group services the entire Tampa Bay Area and would like the chance to represent you.