Pre-Divorce? Understanding Florida Separation Laws
When a marriage hits a rocky point and the spouses are debating whether or not to consider filing for divorce, it is quite common for spouses to separate but remain married, until they decide whether officially filing for divorce is the most prudent course of action. This is perfectly understandable. There are numerous reasons why a separation, as opposed to all-out divorce, makes sense, including:
– The couple simply wants to have a trial separation – There may be hope to eventually reconcile, so a separation, as opposed to officially filing for divorce, makes sense.
– Concerns about health insurance coverage – It is quite common for one spouse to have health insurance through their employer, but providing coverage to the other spouse and any children.
– Concerns over their respective religious organization or beliefs – Some faiths fervently object to the concept of divorce, meaning couples attempt to circumvent such concerns through separation.
– Benefits through Social Security, pension, and/or other retirement vehicles – It is quite common for married couples to actually delay filing for divorce until they have been married long enough to get certain benefits through Social Security, a pension, and other retirement services.
Florida has some complex laws when it comes to separations. For example, Florida does not allow spouses to officially file for legal separation. Nevertheless, other legal agreements can enable you and your spouse to formalize a separation so you have some semblance of structure to your relationship while you are not living together. This is critically important, as it can help establish the following:
– An arrangement on how your children will be cared for during the separation;
– An agreement on who will handle which financial obligations (e.g., mortgage on the house, car payments, tuition, etc.); and
– Visitation timesharing with the children.
Marital Settlement Agreements
A marital settlement agreement can provide the same result as a legal separation would have in another state. You and your spouse have the ability to enter into this legally binding agreement on your own accord and follow the terms that you worked out together.
Other Important Separation Documents
In addition to drafting a marital settlement agreement, you should consider drafting a Petition for Support Disconnected with Dissolution of Marriage. This legal document may enable a spouse to receive child support and alimony from a spouse that has moved out without having to file for divorce. In addition, you and your spouse should consider putting together a postnuptial agreement document. This agreement details how your assets, any debts, alimony, etc. will be handled in the event of a formal divorce down the road.
Whatever the reasons for deciding to separate for your spouse, it is best to have a set of agreed terms to help reduce the risk of financial and emotional battles later on with your spouse. You should also strongly consider reaching out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney to help review the language of these agreements to ensure that the terms are properly drafted. Contact the law offices of Vanessa L. Prieto today to set up a time to meet and discuss your situation.