Can I Get a Legal Separation in Florida?
There are generally three primary means of dissolving or ending a marriage — divorce, annulment, and legal separation. Some people may prefer legal separation over divorce because it essentially allows a couple to dissolve their marriage without ending it. This means that they can divide assets and debts and determine custody and visitation issues without terminating or altering their marital status legally. This can be important for religious reasons or if there is a need to keep health insurance intact. There can also be tax benefits or personal reasons, such as working toward a reconciliation, that make a separation preferable to a divorce for some couples.
Is Legal Separation an Option in Florida?
Unfortunately, unlike the majority of other states, Florida does not offer legal separation as an option. However, there are still ways of effecting the same outcome, despite a lack of statutory support or an actual legal mechanism for separating.
Alternatives to Legal Separation in Florida
In Florida, it is legal for married couples to live separate and apart. Living separately and utilizing one of these other legal methods can be effective in providing essentially the same effect as a legal separation would.
- Postnuptial agreement. Choosing to live separately and implementing a postnuptial agreement outlining mutually-agreed-upon terms for asset division, spousal support, visitation, and custody, can essentially provide the same benefits as a formal legal separation.
- Limited Divorce. In some cases, a limited divorce may also make sense. In a limited divorce, you and your spouse must both voluntarily offer to separate and ask the court for help in determining custody and visitation for shared children. Both spouses will be asked to provide financial disclosures to the court and the court will determine which parent gets primary custody of the children and how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay.
- Petitions Unrelated to Dissolution. These petitions can be filed to help create agreements for couples who are not seeking divorce for things such as parenting plans, custody, visitation, and spousal support.
A Lawyer Can Help
An experienced Florida divorce lawyer can review the specific facts and circumstances of your case and determine the best course of action for you and your family. Sharing your ideal outcome and goals with your attorney can help ensure that they work toward a solution that is in alignment with your values and intentions. As you can see, there are a number of means to the end of separation. A lawyer can help you determine the best option for you. In these cases, the more you and your spouse are able to mutually agree to the terms of all necessary agreements, the smoother the process will be and the more likely it is to be successful. However, if you are dealing with an uncooperative spouse, it is also important to talk with a lawyer.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are considering a separation or divorce, contact the experienced Family Law Attorneys at The SG Law Firm and schedule a consultation today.