Miami Legal Tips Blog

Repealing Florida’s Cohabitation Law

You’ve likely heard about state laws that have been on the books for quite some time without having been recently enforced. Typically, these are of the ridiculous variety and worth a good laugh.

However, a law that’s been on the books in Florida since 1868 could have serious repercussions for individuals and their relatives – which is likely why one South Florida lawmaker has reportedly filed a bill that would repeal it.

Under the current law, an unmarried man and woman living together could be charged with a crime that is punishable by a $500 fine and as many as 60 days in jail.

As the law states : “If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.”Cohabitation Couple

Previous efforts to repeal the law, most notably a 2011 attempt, have failed. At the time, one Florida state representative was quoted as saying, “I’m not ready to give up on monogamy and a cultural statement that marriage still matters.”

Evidently, the nearly 700 people who had been charged with misdemeanors under the law between 2006 and 2011 weren’t able to dissuade him from his position.

A year later, a so-called concerned citizen called for a Hallandale Beach city commissioner to be prosecuted under the statute because he was reportedly living with his girlfriend.

The concerned person was quoted as saying, “I don’t give a darn about [his] living arrangement. I may even agree that the law in question is archaic and not well-suited to contemporary times. But the real story is that an elected official — sworn (or affirmed) to uphold state law — is knowingly violating that law.”

The new bill would also repeal a provision of the 1868 statute that currently permits a judge to stop a parent from having contact with their child if they were to be convicted of breaking the cohabitation law.

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