Legal Separation In Florida
Some states allow married couples to file for legal separation. While legal separation involves living apart for a period of time, it is not the same as simply living apart. A legal separation is a pre-divorce process that allows a couple to settle specific issues that need to be addressed while the couple is living separately. The couple may pursue a divorce later, but while the couple is separated, the court will impose an agreement related to property division, visitation, custody, alimony, child support, and legal separation.
Florida is one of only six states that does not recognize legal separation. In other states, a couple may consider legal separation as a temporary option to avoid finalizing a divorce if they are unsure what they want to do. In these cases, having a contract in place helps both parents understand their obligations to one another and their children and it allows the courts to enforce the agreement.
Legal separation allows a couple to draft an agreement prior to a divorce, live apart, and begin new lives. If it seems like the right move, then they continue along that path. In some cases, they will return to one another. In most cases, they will not. At the end of a year, the couple can then convert their separation into a divorce. However, the Florida courts will not recognize these contracts, so Floridians need to employ other means to achieve the same ends.
Florida does not want to bifurcate divorce proceedings. Instead, they expect couples to know that they’ve committed to the path that they’re on. However, that doesn’t mean that they want to force a couple who is going through a divorce to live in the same home while the divorce is proceeding. For couples who need a temporary option while their divorce is proceeding, a temporary order is employed by the Florida courts to accommodate their needs. However, this falls well short of a legal separation agreement.
Why would I need legal separation?
If you and your spouse cannot get along and decide to live apart for a while, Florida law still considers you to be married. If a separated woman were to become pregnant during that period, the law would consider her estranged husband the father. Further, if either spouse were to accrue debts during that period, it would be considered property of the marriage. In the case of a legal separation, a temporary division between the estates of the two parties is enacted so that one spouse does not incur the debts of the other. There is no such provision under Florida law. So, the situation has the potential to become very messy very quickly.
However, spouses that need financial relief after the other spouse moves out do have options at their disposal. They can petition the court for a temporary order to recover alimony or spousal support.
Talk to a Tampa Divorce Attorney Today
Faulkner Law Group helps Tampa couples divorce. Call our Tampa divorce lawyers today to discuss your goals in more detail and we can put a plan into place to ensure the next chapter of your life is a good one.