Can I Get a Legal Separation Instead Of an Annulment Or Divorce?

Many states allow for one spouse to separate from the other spouse as an alternative to divorce, with even some allowing permanent separation. This permanent separation allows a couple to avoid going through the divorce process while acquiring their own separate property. In Florida, legal separation from a spouse is not an option. Florida is one of a few states in the country that does not recognize this alternative as a valid option.

Florida does not bar a married couple from living separately from one another, but the rights and protections that belong to those that are legally separated do not apply to these couples. States with recognized legal separations will have the court decide the rights of each spouse and the resolution of issues that would typically be involved in a standard divorce case, such as child custody or support.

Since we can't legally separate, what can we do?

While separating instead of divorcing can be helpful for those with health insurance, religious, and Social Security concerns, there are other legal agreements that can be drafted that allow a married couple to formalize their separate living arrangements while providing structure and protections.

Alternatives to legal separation include:

  • Separation agreements legally provide many of the same protections as legal separations but are not resolved or disputed upon by the court. This agreement will be in the hands of the couple.
  • Postnuptial agreements are developed after the marriage, outlining how property division, debts, alimony, and other issues will be handled in the event of a divorce.
  • Petitioning for support allows one spouse to receive child support and alimony from the spouse that has moved out of the marital home without filing for divorce.

When spouses separate without legal protections on their side, there are a number of issues that can arise and complicate their rights. Since Florida does not have a legal means to separate, couples seeking to be apart from one another must develop and abide by other rules to protect their interests.

If you are seeking options for separating with a spouse, consult with a seasoned family law attorney. With nearly 75 years of combined legal experience, Richard A. Heller, P.A. may be able to provide you with some options you had not considered when separating with a spouse.

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