How to Get Legally Separated in Florida? A Full Guide and FAQs

Legal separation is a process that allows married couples to live apart without ending their marriage.

An image of a couple getting divorced
How to Get Legally Separated in Florida [Photo courtesy of Family Ties]
It can be a temporary or permanent arrangement, depending on the circumstances and preferences of the spouses.

Legal separation can have various benefits, such as preserving religious beliefs, maintaining health insurance coverage, or avoiding the stigma of divorce.

However, not all states recognize legal separation as a formal option for married couples.

Florida is one of the six states that do not have legal separation statutes or procedures.

This means that there is no official way to get legally separated in Florida, and no court order to enforce the terms of the separation.

There are alternative ways to achieve a similar outcome as legal separation, such as filing for child support, alimony, or a postnuptial agreement.

In this article, we will explain what legal separation is, how it differs from divorce, and what alternatives are available for couples who want to separate in Florida.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a legal status that allows married couples to live separately and apart, while still remaining married.

It can be granted by a court order, or by a mutual agreement between the spouses.

The terms of the separation can include issues such as:

  1. Division of property and debts
  2. Child custody and visitation
  3. Child support and alimony
  4. Tax filing status
  5. Health insurance and other benefits

Legal separation can be a temporary or permanent solution for couples who want to separate but do not want to divorce.

Some of the reasons why couples may choose legal separation over divorce are:

Legal separation can also be a step towards divorce, as it allows the spouses to test the waters of living apart, and to resolve some of the issues that may arise in a divorce.

However, legal separation does not end the marriage, and the spouses cannot remarry unless they convert their legal separation to a divorce.

How is legal separation different from divorce?

Divorce and reasons for Divorce
Divorce and Reasons for Divorce

Divorce is the legal termination of a marriage.

It dissolves the marital bond and the legal rights and obligations that come with it.

Divorce can be granted by a court order or by a mutual agreement between the spouses.

The terms of the divorce can include issues such as:

1. Division of property and debts

2. Child custody and visitation

3. Child support and alimony

4. Name change

5. Remarriage rights

Divorce can be a final or permanent solution for couples who want to end their marriage.

Some of the reasons why couples may choose divorce over legal separation are:

1.Desire to start a new life or relationship

2.Irreconcilable differences or conflicts

3.Abuse, adultery, or abandonment

4.Financial independence or stability

5.Legal closure and certainty

Divorce can also be a prerequisite for legal separation, as some states require the spouses to be divorced before they can enter into a legal separation agreement.

However, divorce does not guarantee a smooth or amicable separation, and the spouses may still face legal disputes or challenges after the divorce.

How to Get Legally Separated in Florida?

As mentioned earlier, Florida does not have a formal system of legal separation.

There is no specific statute or procedure that allows couples to file for legal separation in Florida.

This does not mean that couples who want to separate in Florida have no options or rights.

There are alternative ways to achieve a similar outcome as legal separation, such as:

1.Filing for child support or alimony

Even if the spouses do not file for divorce, they can still request the court to order one spouse to pay child support or alimony to the other spouse, based on their income, expenses, and needs.

This can provide financial assistance and security to the spouse who needs it, and can also establish the date of separation for future reference.

2.Signing a postnuptial agreement

A postnuptial agreement is a contract that the spouses sign after they get married, to define their rights and obligations in case of separation or divorce.

It can cover issues such as division of property and debts, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, and other matters that the spouses agree on.

Postnuptial agreement can provide clarity and certainty to the spouses, and can also be enforced by the court if necessary.

3.Living separately and apart

The simplest way to separate in Florida is to live separately and apart, without the need for a court order or a written agreement. The spouses can decide on their own how to handle their finances, children, and other aspects of their lives.

However, this option may not provide legal protection or recognition to the spouses, and may also create confusion or conflict in the future.

FAQs

 Can I get legally separated in Florida?

No, Florida does not have a formal system of legal separation. There is no specific statute or procedure that allows couples to file for legal separation in Florida.

There is also no court order that can grant or enforce the terms of the separation.

What are the benefits of legal separation?

Legal separation can have various benefits, such as preserving religious beliefs, maintaining health insurance coverage, or avoiding the stigma of divorce.

It can also be a temporary or permanent solution for couples who want to separate, but do not want to divorce.

What are the drawbacks of legal separation?

Legal separation can have various drawbacks, such as limiting the spouses’ freedom to remarry, creating legal ambiguity or uncertainty, or prolonging the emotional distress or conflict.

It can also be a costly or complicated process, depending on the state and the circumstances.

What are the alternatives to legal separation in Florida?

There are alternative ways to achieve a similar outcome as legal separation in Florida, such as filing for child support or alimony, signing a postnuptial agreement, or living separately and apart.

These options can provide financial, legal, or personal benefits to the spouses, depending on their situation and preferences.

How can I get a divorce in Florida?

To get a divorce in Florida, you need to meet the following requirements:

1.You or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months before filing for divorce.

2.You must have grounds for divorce, which can be either no-fault or fault-based.

No-fault grounds mean that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and fault-based grounds include adultery, domestic violence, desertion, or mental incapacity.

3.You must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse live.

4.You must serve the petition and other documents to your spouse, either personally or by mail.

5.You must complete a financial affidavit and a parenting plan if you have minor children.

6.You must attend a mediation session to try to resolve any issues with your spouse.

7.You must attend a final hearing, where the judge will review your case and grant the divorce, if all the requirements are met.

Conclusion

Legal separation is a process that allows married couples to live apart without ending their marriage.

It can be a temporary or permanent arrangement, depending on the circumstances and preferences of the spouses.

Legal separation can have various benefits and drawbacks, depending on the state and the situation.

However, Florida does not have a formal system of legal separation.

There is no specific statute or procedure that allows couples to file for legal separation in Florida.

This does not mean that couples who want to separate in Florida have no options or rights.

These options can provide financial, legal, or personal benefits to the spouses.

A family law attorney can also help you with the divorce process, if you decide to end your marriage in the future.

 

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