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Florida's marriage statute, § 741.08, Fla. Stat. (2002), must be read in pari materia. Couples who desire to be married must apply for a license. There is a fee for getting a marriage license and that fee is reduced for attending pre-marital counseling. The license is valid for 60 days. The officiant at the ceremony must certify that the marriage was solemnized. The certified marriage license must be returned to the clerk or issuing judge within 10 days and the clerk or judge is required to keep a correct record of certified marriage licenses. Finally, there is a provision by which the marriage may be proved in instances where the license is lost or destroyed. At every turn in ch. 741, Fla. Stat., marriages are presupposed to have a license. To depart from the requirement to have a license re-creates common-law marriage as abolished by § 741.211, Fla. Stat.
Appellee Roberto Maal an appellant Kimberly Hall were engaged to be married. Despite not having obtained a license because they had not agreed on the prenuptial agreement, the parties had a marriage ceremony. The parties had two children and referred to each other as husband and wife. In addition, a year after the marriage ceremony, the parties appeared before the clerk of the court and applied for and received a marriage license. However, the license was neither solemnized nor returned to the clerk of the court to be made part of the official records of the county. Several years after, appellant filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. Appellee respondent by filing an answer and counter-petition to establish paternity, wherein he denied the existence of a valid marital relationship. The trial court found that a valid marital relationship did not exist. On appeal, the appellate court held that a valid marriage existed between the parties. Appellee filed a motion for rehearing en banc, which the appellate court granted.
Did a valid marriage exist between appellant and appellee, notwithstanding the circumstances surrounding their marriage?
Upon review, the court determined that both parties were aware that to become married in Florida they were required to appear before the clerk of the court together and apply for and receive a marriage license under § 741.08, Fla. Stat. (2002). Furthermore, the license that was finally obtained was never solemnized nor returned to become part of the official county records. Finally, the court determined that the parties were not in substantial compliance with ch. 741, Fla. Stat. Accordingly, the court withdrew its earlier opinion, and substituted its new opinion affirming the judgment of the trial court.