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Can you File for Separation in Florida?


Is there such a thing as a legal separation in Florida? There is nothing in the Florida statutes that provides for a legal separation such as what you find in some other states. However, couples can separate, and the courts can formalize it in some ways. Some couples find themselves in a marriage that is not currently working out, but they are not ready to formalize the divorce. Or maybe there are children and you do not want to further traumatize them, or there is still some hope for the marriage working out down the line. Others do not file for a formal divorce due to religious reasons.

Preparing a Separation Agreement

If you are considering separation, having a separation agreement can include provisions for most of your concerns. It’s important to meet with a skilled Florida family law attorney who is familiar with drafting separation agreements.

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between both spouses that may provide some of the same, or similar, characteristics as what you would find in a divorce decree. Some of these include a plan for spousal support, property division, and parental time sharing.

Separation agreements can be converted into a divorce agreement if one spouse does eventually decide to proceed with a divorce. Establishing these things ahead of time can make the transition to a formal divorce much easier. If you and your spouse are already living apart, establishing provisions through a separation agreement may be easier than negotiating a divorce settlement.

Situations where a Legal Separation Might be Preferable

As mentioned, there are a number of situations that might lead couples to separating rather than filing for a formal divorce. Some potential situations include:

  • Spouses are concerned about tax implications of a divorce
  • Spouses will be put in a worse financial situation with a divorce
  • One spouse is covered by the other’s medical insurance and doesn’t want to lose insurance benefits
  • There is a concern that one spouse has potential liability exposure and they need to divide assets, but they want to remain married
  • One spouse is in the military and the other will lose their benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act if married to a servicemember for more than 10 years

Separation versus Divorce 

Remember that Florida has residency requirements for filing for divorce. This means that if you and your spouse separate and both of you move out of the state, you won’t qualify to proceed with the divorce if that is the path you plan to take. Florida mandates you must live in the state for the immediate six months prior to filing for divorce.

Retaining a Florida Family Law Attorney

If you are contemplating separation or divorce, it’s important to speak with a skilled Boca Raton divorce attorney. The team at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White has over 50 years of experience handling Florida divorces and other family law matters. Contact us online or call our office at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.

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