This is the second installment in our multi-part blog post covering Frequently Asked Questions FAQ about Divorce in Florida. If you have not yet reviewed Part I of this blog post, we recommend you review that installment before reading the information below. This portion of this multi-blog post specifically focuses on the issue of separation under Florida law. Those with specific questions about their unique situation are invited to contact our office and set up an initial consultation.
Can I obtain a legal separation by simply moving out of the family home and separating my finances from my spouse?
While Florida does not recognize the process of legal separation, this approach would not be sufficient even in jurisdictions that do provide a procedure for legal separation. Although the legal separation process is not formally recognized in Florida, marital partners can accomplish many of the same objectives by effective use of other types of agreements, such as using a postnuptial agreement.
Why would someone opt for separation as opposed to dissolution of marriage (divorce)?
Whether legal separation is formal or informal, it may be preferable to a marital dissolution for a number of reasons that include:
- Reconciliation/Trial Separation: If the parties know that the marriage is in jeopardy and time apart is needed, separation provides a way to accomplish this object without actually dissolving marital status.
- Religious Concerns: Because divorce may conflict with a person’s religious beliefs, the separation process can provide many of the same protections of a divorce including property division, alimony, child custody/visitation and child support without actually resulting on a divorce that violates the tenants of one’s religion.
- Insurance Coverage: When parties divorce, the result may be the loss of insurance coverage for a dependent spouse. This can be extremely problematic if a spouse has a serious pre-existing medical condition, which may make it difficult to obtain new health insurance. Separation maintains a status quo in terms of marital status so that there is no loss of health insurance coverage.
- Pension/Military Retirement/Social Security Benefits: Because these types of retirement and benefit programs have minimum qualification terms, it may be financially advisable for both spouses to delay the dissolution of marriage until after this qualifying term for the length of marriage has been satisfied.
What is the alternative to legal separation in Florida?
As indicated above the goals of legal separation in other states generally can be accomplished through other means in Florida. One option may be for you and your spouse to prepare a postnuptial agreement. This is an available alternative that essentially can address certain issues encompassed in a formal legal separation, such as spousal support (alimony) and property distribution. The primary difference between this approach and legal separation in states that recognize this process is that in Florida the agreement process and implementation of the agreement is managed outside of a courtroom by the parties and/or their attorneys.