Can I Legally Separate from My Spouse in Florida?

Divorce and division of marital property

If a couple is considering divorce but is not ready to fully commit to the idea of a formal divorce decree, many choose to engage in a separation. While some states provide for legal separation from your partner, and even require it prior to filing for a divorce, Florida does not recognize legal separation. Therefore, if you wish to separate from your spouse but would like to retain some legal protections during this separation period you may want to consult with an experienced Florida Divorce Attorney. We will be able to discuss with you the alternatives to a legal separation as well as ways to protect you specifically in your situation.

If you and your spouse wish to live apart or separate, a Florida court need not be involved in such a decision. Technically, separation occurs when the spouses maintain separate residences, separate bank accounts, and essentially continue in their life without the acknowledgment of their marriage. However, without legal recognition of a separation, you are still married in the eyes of the government and the court and will maintain the same benefits and detriments that a marriage title holds. Therefore, some couples choose to enter a postnuptial agreement during this time.

Postnuptial agreements are legally binding contracts between spouses. In these agreements you can address the payment of alimony, who retains the marital home, how expenses will be paid, the division of certain property, how health insurance coverage is to be maintained, how a joint bank account may be divided or how the couple may continue to use it, how taxes may be filed, how debts will be distributed, how future debts incurred by either party will be handled, and any other pertinent topics that are needed to be addressed between you and your spouse. It is important that this document be comprehensive and detailed to ensure validity and remove confusion when an issue arises. Further, there are certain statutory requirements of these contracts for them to be enforceable. For instance, the contract must be in writing and signed by each spouse, and full financial disclosure must have occurred. If you and your spouse do not engage in financial disclosure, or only orally agree to certain items, the agreement can be invalidated. It is important to employ a Florida Divorce Attorney to draft this document to ensure the necessary details are covered as well as the formal requirements are met.

Further, if there are minor children between the parties, you may wish to petition the court to determine a child support order. Although child custody and support orders are typically done within a divorce action or paternity suit, you may still petition the court for an order of child support if you are living apart from the child’s parent. The court will determine the financial situations of the parents, just as in any divorce or paternity action, and determine the appropriate child support award if any. Therefore, if you are choosing to separate from your spouse whom you share a minor child with, ensure you seek out guidance on the financial aspect of raising a child separately, and seek out a child support order if necessary.

Whether you are contemplating divorce and are not ready to commit or simply wish not to divorce and live separately from your spouse, contact a Florida Divorce Attorney to ensure you are properly protected during this separation. We will discuss with you, your specific desires and needs as well as ways to ensure they are legally protected outside of a legally recognized separation.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 orĀ  complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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