Florida And Legal Separation Of A Married Couple
In many states when a couple is having irreconcilable differences in their marriage but is not ready to get divorced, the law allows them to take a sort of middle ground. This middle ground is in the form of legal separation. When a couple files for a legal separation instead of a divorce, there are some significant differences in how a court can handle the legal issues between the couple.
Florida law does not recognize legal separation between married people who want to avoid a divorce. Under Florida law, there is no halfway point with divorce, and divorce must separate or break the matrimonial ties between the spouses completely, and not just keep the couple from living together.
This does not mean that spouses who want to be separated have to live together and suffer through their situation. It simply means that they are legally married until a court enters an order for the dissolution of their marriage. The spouses cannot legally remarry until a court enters this order, but generally, this is the only legal limitation this entails.
There are some important issues that can be taken care of regardless of whether the spouse has gone through a divorce. If the couple has children, the couple can still set up a custody agreement and visitation schedule. In addition, even when a couple is still married, one spouse can petition a court to order the other spouse to pay child support. While the same is true for spousal support, it can be more difficult to get when the couple is not divorced.
A couple may live apart for years and still be legally married without being required to formally file for a divorce. However, because there is no legal recognition that the couple is separated, this kind of arrangement could complicate things along the way. For example, technically speaking, any debts acquired by one spouse during this separation period could be attributed to both spouses as marital debt. A separated spouse may also remain a next of kin for purposes of making important decisions about a person’s health care, which may not be ideal.
Separation, legal or otherwise, is not a prerequisite to filing for divorce in Florida. In Florida, a person can petition for a divorce, once the person meets the residency requirements, based on the fact that a marriage is irretrievably broken. There is no definition of what makes a marriage irretrievably broken, and this varies from case to case. If a court finds the marriage is irretrievably broken, it grants the divorce.
Unless there are some compelling personal or religious reasons for not wanting a divorce, it is better to get a clean break from the marriage if you are sure that the marriage is irretrievably broken. While remaining married but separated may seem like a good option, it can bring with it some legal complications.
Contact Us for More Information
If you are unsure of how to separate from your spouse legally, or how to file a divorce, contact our experienced and compassionate Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorneys at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for legal assistance.