Can I Get a Legal Separation In Florida?
As a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear from clients concerns the issue of separation. Living apart from your spouse can provide a cooling-off period prior to reconciliation. It can also be used as a temporary step prior to filing for divorce or a long term alternative for dealing with an unhappy marriage. In either case, there is no such thing as a legal separation under Florida law, but there are steps you can take to protect your rights in this situation.
Does Florida Have Legal Separation?
Unlike some other states, Florida law does not provide provisions for a legal separation nor is one required prior to getting a divorce. There are some steps couples who choose to live separate and apart from each other which can lend some formally to the arrangement. These include:
- Create a post-marital agreement: Similar to contracts couples enter into prior to marriage, a post-marital agreement sets terms in the event a divorce is filed. It details property and assets you possess, how these items will be divided, and each person’s general rights and obligations, as well as provisions in the event of reconciliation.
- Create a separation agreement: This is another type of contract used to detail the terms of your split. While difficult to enforce through the courts, it can provide a level of formality and may prove useful in dealing with leasing agents and lenders.
- Obtain a spousal maintenance order: Under Section 61.09 of the Florida Statutes, you have the right to seek an order for alimony and/or child support through the courts if you are living apart from your spouse but have not filed for divorce.
It is important to note that none of these provide the permanent protections offered by a divorce agreement, but are helpful options when seeking a separation.
Why Some People Prefer Separation To Divorce
Deciding to live separate and apart from each other prior to filing for divorce offers certain benefits. It can provide some breathing room to work on issues within the marriage while giving you a taste of what it might be like to live on your own. Some couples use this time to go to counseling, which may end up resulting in reconciliation.
For other couples, a separation provides a less permanent way to end the marriage, without the legal ramifications. According to Marriage.com, some prefer separation to a formal divorce decree for the following reasons:
- Divorce goes against their religion, upbringing, or family beliefs;
- They want to continue to file taxes as a married couple;
- It allows them to remain on their spouse’s health insurance;
- It protects their position for estate planning purposes and allows them to collect pensions, social security, or other benefits.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you have questions or concerns about separation or the divorce process, our office provides the trusted legal guidance you need. Contact our Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Vanessa L. Prieto to schedule a consultation today.