License To Wed

How important is the marriage license that every couple is required to get under Florida law? In a recent ruling by the Florida 4 th District Court of Appeals the court determined that a couple was not legally married because they never obtained a marriage license.

The parties in the case of Betermariam v. Said, (35 Fla. L. Weekly D2542a), were married in 2004 in Virginia through an Islamic religious ceremony. Both parties believed they were married after the ceremony and never considered going to get a marriage license. The couple filed for a Florida divorce a few years later. The Florida court had to look at the law in Virginia to determine that without a marriage license the marriage was not valid. Because the marriage did not legally exist, the court in Florida found it had no jurisdiction to award alimony or equitable distribution. Be sure to mention to your expert St. Petersburg family law attorney if you and your spouse never obtained a marriage license as it could impact your case in many ways.

In addition, because the couple in the above case had children in common, Florida did have jurisdiction to rule on parental responsibility, timesharing, and child support under Florida Statutes Chapter 742. The case also reminds us that a court may order a parent to pay for private educational expenses if it finds that the "parent has the ability to pay for private school" and the "expenses are in accordance with the family's customary standard of living and are in the child's best interest."