Divorce isn’t for everyone. While you may not want to continue living with your spouse, but are not certain you want a divorce, legal separation is an option. Much like divorce, you can negotiate child custody, child support, alimony and property division in a legal separation. However, you are still legally married to your spouse, so you can take advantage of health insurance and social security benefits if that’s a concern.
Unfortunately, Florida is one of six states that does not recognize legal separation.
Just because it is not recognized, however, does not mean you cannot reach court-adjudicated decisions or agreements in child support and alimony without a divorce. In Florida, if you’re seeking separation or financial support without a divorce, you can take advantage of statutes which allow you to agree upon or litigate family law matters.
Legal agreements relating to separation in Florida include:
- Separation agreement: This legally binding agreement can provide the same result as legal separations in other states.
- Petition for support: This petition allows one spouse to receive child support and alimony without filing for divorce.
- Postnuptial agreement: This agreement specifies the terms and conditions of alimony, debt, and division of assets.
Additionally, Florida allows 'limited divorce', which is similar to legal separation. Grounds for a limited divorce include cruelty, desertion, and voluntary separation. The court then establishes the primary residence of the children and decides visitation rights of the noncustodial parent. Separated parents must list their income and resources in order to come up with a support amount to be paid monthly by the noncustodial parent.
If a divorce does eventually occur, any decisions made during separation proceedings are not binding. At that point, the courts must reexamine all family law matters. While separation may be the right decision for you and your spouse, it is not easy to navigate if you have children or a high number of properties and other assets.
If you’re considering legal separation, it is important you contact our Clearwater family lawyers Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. today. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complexities of family and protect your best interests.
Call (727) 245-9009 or contact us online for a free consultation.