On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
If you want to go separate ways with your spouse, but want this separation to be legal, there are three ways to do this in the United States: divorce, annulment of marriage, and legal separation.
But if you live in Florida, legal separation is not a viable option. Unlike other states, which formally recognize the three options, Florida does not recognize legal separation.
If, for whatever reason, you want to leave your spouse – temporarily or permanently – and want to make this separation legally binding, but do not want to actually get divorced, there may be several ways to get the same legal protections that come with legal separation.
“Yes, you do not necessarily have to get legal separation, which is not available in Florida, in order to get the same legal protections,” says our Fort Lauderdale property division attorney at the Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
Legal separation per se is a contractually defined and court-honored agreement that covers each party’s rights and obligations regarding child support, custody, alimony, and other aspects of marriage while maintaining the status of “being married.”
So how do you get a legal separation in Florida without actually getting one? Since there is no way to get legally separated in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in Florida, there are other procedures available to you that provide you with the same legal protections offered by legal separation.
3 ways to separate from your spouse and be legally protected (without getting a legal separation)
File for a limited divorce. There is a thing called a “Limited Divorce” in Florida, which is essentially the same as getting divorced while maintaining the status of being married. Our experienced property division lawyer in Fort Lauderdale says that legal separation and a Limited Divorce are essentially the same thing if you do this right.
However, in order to mimic the same legal protections as a legal separation would offer, you will have to file for a limited divorce through a Fort Lauderdale court and agree to voluntarily separate. Then, the court will determine child custody and child support in your limited divorce. You and your spouse will be required to provide a list of your income and assets in order to determine child support and alimony.
File a petition for support. You can also file a petition for support unconnected with dissolution of marriage, which allows both spouses to ensure that certain obligations of the other spouse are met. For example, this petition can help a parent make sure that the other parent is providing child support payments or that the child is financially supported when the other parent is not around. You can also request help with a parenting plan and even alimony through a petition.
One of the best things about these petitions for support is that they have no residency requirements (if you want to get divorced, on the other hand, Florida courts do require one of the parties to have resided in the state for at least six months).
Create a postnuptial agreement. Arguably the most rational way to get the same legal protections a legal separation would offer is to create a postnuptial agreement. “Contrary to the popular belief, postnuptial agreements are NOT just for divorcing couples,” says our Fort Lauderdale property division attorney.
In reality, a postnuptial agreement can be created during the marriage, and is a great way to put each party’s rights and obligations in writing and make them legally binding. Your lawyer can help you outline specific rules and guidelines that must be followed by your spouse without having to get a legal separation in Florida. These rules and guidelines can include but are not limited to how much time each parent spends with the children, what, if any, alimony will be paid, how much child support will be paid, and many more.
Let our experienced family law attorneys from the Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. help you choose the best option for your particular circumstances. Schedule a free consultation by calling at 954-533-2756 or fill out this contact form.