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Is Legal Separation Recognized In Florida?

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Many couples who are experiencing difficulties in their marital relationship wish to try a trial separation, especially if they don’t feel fully prepared for the finality of divorce. Couples who go this route also often want structures in place to address issues, like child custody and spousal support, which is why so many people seek legal separation prior to divorce. Unfortunately, legal separation isn’t recognized in Florida, so married couples who wish to change their relationship status will need to seriously consider divorce if they have not already done so. However, there are a few other options for married couples, besides divorce, that can help them formalize their separation in other ways.

Florida Doesn’t Recognize Legal Separation

Legal separation isn’t recognized in Florida, which means that couples who wish to remain legally married, but live separately, won’t be able to pursue this type of action in court. There are, however, other options that could serve a couple’s needs without involving an official decree of legal separation.

Filing a Petition for Support

While courts can’t adjudicate legal separations in Florida, judges can still play a role in addressing many of the issues that couples will encounter when living separately. One spouse may, for instance, be concerned about financially supporting him or herself during the separation. Fortunately, divorce proceedings don’t need to be initiated for a person to file a Petition for Support with a Florida court. Instead, a spouse can seek both spousal and child support from a higher earning spouse who has moved out of a shared residence by filing one of these petitions. It’s important to note that these petitions can only be used to address alimony and child support. Any issues regarding property division, debts, or child custody cannot be discussed.

Entering into a Settlement Agreement

In many cases, it isn’t even necessary for a court to get involved in a couple’s separation at all for two spouses to iron out related issues. A couple could, for instance, enter into a separation agreement, or contract where the parties attempt to resolve property and custody-related matters. While legally binding, a court won’t approve such an agreement or resolve disputes related to it.

Entering into a Postnuptial Agreement

Another option that is available to separating spouses in Florida is a postnuptial agreement. These contracts, although similar to prenuptial agreements, take place after a marriage has already occurred and can address and specify the terms and conditions of a marital separation. They can, for instance, dictate how a couple divides their assets, who is responsible for which debts, and whether one owes alimony to the other.

Do You Need the Help of an Experienced Florida Legal Separation Attorney?

If you and your partner are ready to separate, but are not yet prepared to divorce, feel free to talk to dedicated Florida legal separation lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your options. You can reach us at 954-945-7591 or via online message. We serve clients not only in Fort Lauderdale, but also in Boca Raton and elsewhere in southeast Florida.

Sources:

flcourts.org/content/download/403068/file/904a1.pdf

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/relationship-dissolution-planning-part-1-nuptial-agreements/

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