Divorce isn’t for everyone. If you do not wish to continue living with your spouse, but are not certain you want a divorce, you may be interested in legal separation instead. In a legal separation, you can negotiate child custody, child support, alimony and property division just as in a divorce. 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.
However, just because legal separation is not recognized in Florida, you can still reach court-adjudicated decisions or agreements in child support and alimony without a divorce. If you’re seeking separation in Florida or financial support without a divorce, you can take advantage of statutes that allow you to agree upon or litigate family law matters.
Legal agreements that operate as alternatives 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 in Florida, 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 Florida family law and protect your best interests.
Call (727) 245-9009 or contact us online for a free consultation.