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Can You Get a Legal Separation in Florida?

Published at October 26, 2020 by administrator.

Considering a legal separation in Florida is a major life change. It can be extremely overwhelming to figure out the legal options available and how they will benefit you in a separation or divorce.

Every state has different rules and it is important to know what your state offers and what benefits a separation can give you. Although Florida does not offer a legal separation through the courts, it is possible to work with your attorney to separate from a significant other. An attorney can help you get child support, child custody, and financial issues documented before a separation takes place.

Ending a marriage through divorce is not your only option. If you want to separate without a divorce, hire a skilled attorney today to walk you through the process.

What is Legal Separation?

There is a legal option that can protect you during a separation period. A legal separation allows you to stay legally married while living apart. This can be part of a divorce process, a rebuilding of the marriage, or a long term solution if religious beliefs prevent a divorce. Typically the court filing would include division of assets and debts, child custody, child support, alimony and other personal issues that the couple would like documented for their separation.

There are six states that do not allow legal separations:

  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Although not all states offer the formal legal separation process, that does not mean that a separation has to jump right to a divorce. There are options for couples in these states that would include a post-nuptial agreement, child support and alimony even without a legal separation.

The Process of Legal Separation

Legal separation document with a gavel.
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The legal separation process can look differently for each couple. Consult a lawyer for specific steps that relate to your state. A typical legal separation process would include:

         1.     Confirm State Requirements

  • Some states do not have a legal separation option
  • Confirm you and your spouse have lived in the state long enough to file.

         2.     Hire an Attorney

  • It is possible to complete the process online
  • An attorney will simplify the process for you

         3.     File for Separation Petition

  • Your attorney will do this on your behalf
  • If children are not involved many states will allow you to file yourself

         4.     File the Legal Separation Agreement        

  • Child Custody, child support, marital assets are all included in this agreement
  • A mediator can be used to help make the process move along faster if there are issues that both parties do not agree with.

         5.     Serve Separation Agreement

  • If not filing jointly you would serve the petition for legal separation and proposed agreement to your spouse through a process server.
  • This step is not needed if an agreement is reached and the separation filed jointly.

6.     Settle Problem Issues

  • Your spouse may file a counter petition with their requests.
  • Mediation again is useful here.

7.     Execute the Agreement

  • Once all issues are resolved the legal separation can be executed
  • It is in effect until legally dissolved through another court proceeding.

Benefits of Legal Separation

In many ways, a legal separation is similar to a divorce. Both include legal filings and specific decisions on child custody, visitation and financial decisions. It is not necessary to get a legal separation in order to live apart. There is no law that you must live with your spouse. Legal separation is reversible, whereas a divorce is not.

Legal separation is a distinct legal process and not necessarily something that is filed on the way to a divorce. Many people get divorced without a legal separation and many people stay married after a legal separation.

For many, legal separation is a means to continue to share health insurance, taxes and other benefits reserved for married couples. Both legal separation and divorce can be time consuming processes which can be helped with an attorney who is knowledgeable in family law.

How Our Lawyers at The Stafford Firm Can Help You

Man signing documents with two wedding rings.
Photo via Shutterstock

Your lawyer can help you develop a plan that will work for you and your family. If you live in a state where legal separation is an option, then you can work through the steps as needed with your lawyer.

For states (like Florida) that do not have a legal separation option, there are still many resources your lawyer can help you with. If you need or want to stay legally married but you would like to separate from your spouse, your lawyer will work with you to develop a plan that is similarly effective to legal separation.

Your attorney can help set up a written agreement on custody, financial support, and other marital issues for your separation in the state of Florida. Legal separation in Florida will not go through the courts and instead involves both parties coming to terms on what they want their separation time to look like.

Deciding on the marital issues during a trial separation period can make it easier to process a divorce later. Also, since there is no legal separation in Florida it will not cost extra court filing fees to separate and then get back together.

It is a complicated process and major life decision to leave a spouse. Ease your stress and concerns during this process by hiring an attorney to walk you through each step of the process.

Get Started Today

At Stafford, your attorney will be a knowledgeable resource for you throughout the separation process as well as if you decide to divorce. Contact the Stafford Firm for a consultation free of charge! We are the separation experts and are here to walk you through your legal case. No case is too big or too small for us. We welcome the chance to meet with you and will provide you our full attention to establish the best course for your legal case.We are open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. You can contact us by calling (561) 540-4533 or visiting us at 2290 10th Avenue North, Suite 302, Lake Worth, Florida 33461

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