Unmarried couples could go to jail for living together in Florida

(thinkstock photos)
(thinkstock photos)

Looking for a place to live with your boyfriend in Florida? There's a cozy one-room studio behind bars waiting for you. A state law that dates back to the 1800's condemns opposite-sex unmarried couples living under the same roof.

The Sun-Sentinel reports: "Cohabitation of unmarried people is currently a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by $500 or up to 60 days in jail. The same penalty applies to cheating husbands and wives - though only to opposite-sex couples."

Though it's been largely ignored by courts, it's getting renewed attention as a local representative, Ritch Workman, attempts to have it repealed.

The law, which also condemns adultery, has been forgotten but not gone- with the exception of a 2006 case when a Jacksonville woman got her husband handcuffed for cheating.

"It's not generally reported and out of 20 years in law enforcement, I've never seen a person arrested. But, it is on the books," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Spokesman Ken Jefferson told local news at the time of the case.

Now with renewed attention, many unmarried couples could also be defending themselves in court or finding refuge out of state. According to a 2000 Florida Census poll, households with "unmarried partners" increased by 77 percent over 10 years. With moreunmarried senior co-habitatorsthan ever nationwide, the retirement state may also be looking less appealing for snowbirds.

The anti-cohabitation law, which was ruledunconstitutional in North Carolina in 2006, is just one of Florida's overbearingparental legal judgments. Another is the penalization of bike riders that don't hold onto their handlebars. Rep. Workman is also trying to eradicate that law, which fines rebels $60 every time they try the "look ma, no hands" trick.

At least one over-protective Florida law can't be blamed on dusty old traditions: The "Pull Up Your Pants" law. This year marks the first year kids caught wearing baggy pants (or stomach-baring tops) to school could be suspended. Wonder if that will hold up for another 100 years? Anything seems possible-or impossible-in the Sunshine State.

Related links:
Crazy outdated laws that still exist
Does shacking up lead to breaking up?
How to keep co-habitation hot
The origin of saggy pants laws