Legal Separation in Florida

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There is no formal or defined legal separation in Florida. However, a provision named Petition for Support Disconnected with Dissolution of marriage where a partner gets alimony, child custody and visitation and child support through a court order.

Florida is a no-fault divorce state and it does not recognize any documentation for the legal separation. There is no residency requirement to file for separation as the statute of Florida does not recognize it. The only way to be legally separated is to prepare a settlement agreement which provides the terms of separation such as alimony, custodial issues, property division, etc.

The execution of the mediation of separation agreement lays a firm ground for the provisions concerning spousal support, child custody and support for when the couple eventually decides to seek a divorce.

The separation agreement is to be signed by both the spouses in front of the attorneys and has to be notarized. However, this only lays the base of the divorce settlement and is not termed or considered as a legal separation of partners.

The state which need some fault in the relationship to grant a divorce have come up with the idea of legal separation so as not to break the marriage but also to avoid living with a person with faults. There is no such thing as legal separation in Florida. But, there are two methods by which you can stay married but lead your different lives.

These methods are similar to legal separation and are recognized by the statute of Florida. These are called marital separation orders.

Marital Separation Orders:

In the Marital Separation orders, provisions are made such that the couple gets an equal distribution of the property as well as the debts and responsibilities. These include the responsibility of childcare, support, medicare and other marital issues.

  • Support Disconnected with the Dissolution of Marriage:
    In this method, one spouse can file a lawsuit against another spouse demanding the spousal as well as child support, a share in the marital as well as individual property and the medical insurance coverage as well as the other extra ordinary medical expenses, if any. The court then orders the division of the property as it would in a divorce case and also sorts out the other issues in the same way. The court's decision is binding on the spouses and they can eventually file for divorce, or not. This method is usually adopted when the couple fails to reach a settlement agreement in spite of the help of the attorneys and need a court order to sort them out.
  • Execution of the Mediation of Settlement:
    In this method, both the spouses arrive to an agreement regarding the property, childcare, medicare and other marital issues in front of an attorney. Both can hire separate attorneys. However, both the attorneys and spouses should be present for the discussion and settlement. The attorneys draft the agreement and it has to be signed by both the parties. The draft is read by both the parties and then reviewed by the attorneys after which both the parties sign the document. This is like a pre-nuptial agreement which is binding and is to be strictly followed by the parties. There is no need to file this document with the court as the Florida statute does not recognize any documentation regarding separation. This document is called the 'Separation Agreement'. Usually, couples opt for this method as it is the sensible way to arrive to a settlement where emotional issues and children are involved. If the couples fail to reach a settlement, then they to go to the court, file the lawsuit of Support Disconnected with the Dissolution of Marriage.
The advantage of Marital Separation Orders is that you determine the role of court or the amount of court involvement in your case and reach an amicable solution to the irreconcilable differences you have. You may call this as a trial separation as many couples do think of giving a second chance to their marriage and reconcile for the sake of the children and other familial obligations.

Another advantage of the marital separation orders is that you can reconcile and live together as a couple or stay together after sorting the childcare and property issues which is a binding agreement as it is signed by both the parties and drafted by the attorneys.

Similarly, a settlement agreement in Florida is a legal contract signed by both the parties to govern child and support issues along with the other marital issues which draw couples to the divorce. In a way, this agreement can also be used as a blueprint for the divorce settlement if the couple eventually decides to seek a divorce.

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