Is there Legal Separation in Florida?
4 attorney answers
As my colleagues mentioned, there is no legal separation in Florida. But it is common to come to terms on a separation agreement or alimony/child support prior to a divorce being filed on.
You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation since every case is different and not all information is relayed in an online question. The Law Office of Ophelia Bernal-Mora, P.A. is a family & criminal law firm located in Orlando, Florida, we invite you to contact us and welcome your calls at 407-377-6828. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
The advice which you previously received is correct. While many couples become "legally" separated and some in fact remain that in that status for an incredibly long time, Florida does not recognize, therefore nor does it provide statutes, procedural rules, and/or other administrative guidelines for the many analagous issues with which "legally separated couples", particularly those who share common biological children, would ultimately be forced to contend by necessity. I always encourage couples, particularly those with children to attempt reconciliation first, and merely a perfunctory attempt, but a bona fide effort that is not halted the first time the a given couple has an argument during a session. You indicate that you "are not planning reconciliation", but not that you have given up on the possibility entirely so I would as always recommend you try family counseling. If, in the end, it does not work out and you are convinced that divorce is inevitable, take the bull by the horns, file first which will place you as the petitioner which in my view has some advantages and if you want to know why you might choose one path over another, consider whether or not you would like to have your credit destroyed by the next guy she meets; allows to move in with her; has big plans but no job; and for whom she feels sorry so ultimately uses credit cards for which you both, as a married couple have responsibility to buy him nice tailored suits, Italian shoes, etc., which he never wears to a job interview, but does allow him to pick up his next soulmate as a better dressed man. LOL.
We are pleased to offer a free thirty (30) minute initial telephone consultation, or, if possible, will attempt to schedule a free thirty (30) minute initial office consultation. Neither this offer of a free initial consultation, nor the mere fact that the initial consultation may have ultimately been conducted, whether telephonically or at our office location, should be construed; assumed; interpreted; or understood by any individual who was granted a free initial consultation for which no consideration of any sort whatsoever was tendered, to have formed or created an attorney-client relationship, or to have created any obligations owed by the attorney or attorney's firm to any individual who was given a free initial consultation, by the mere undertaking of the free initial consultation for which no consideration of any sort was tendered to attorney or attorney's firm. The formation of an attorney-client relationship occurs through the process of negotiation between the prospective parties, the individual seeking legal representation, and the attorney, acting individually, or as an agent of a firm (the capacity in which the attorney is acting shall be disclosed to prospective client, if negotiations for legal representation in exchange for good and valuable consideration are undertaken by the prospective client and the attorney. If agreement is reached by and between the parties for legal representation after the mutually satisfactory negotiation of the agreement for legal representation, and all of its individual terms; the scope of representation to be provided by the attorney to the prospective client has been delineated to the mutual satisfaction of the parties; the manner of payment of good and valuable consideration by the prospective client to the attorney has been determined; and it has been conceded by the parties that all of those factors upon which agreement had been reached by the parties and which were recited herein, had been agreed upon by the parties only after careful consideration and sufficient review of the document styled Agreement for Legal Representation, and after it has likewise been conceded by the parties that each respectively had been presented with the opportunity to have the document reviewed independently by each respective party's personal attorney, or any other attorney of his or her chooosing. If the Agreement for Legal Representation contains terms regarding contingency fee agreement or agreements for payment to the attorney for all or a portion of his or her services and legal representation on behalf of the Client, Client concedes that he or she has been presented with an additional document entitled "Statement of Client's Rights", which is a document created by the Florida Bar and approved for use in matters in which payment in full or part, is tendered by contingency fee agreement. Please note that any commentary or response offered through this site is based on the limited set of facts and background data supplied by the individual framing the question and would in all likelihood require more investigation before a complete response could properly be framed to thoroughly answer the question posed. No attorney-client relationship is, or should be presumed to be, formed through the comments or responses provided to the individual posing the question, as a courtesy, here, through this forum, nor should any other duties or obligations be construed; assumed; or otherwise be inferred to exist and/or owed to the individual who posed the question by the attorney who provided the best guidance possible to said individual under the circumstances presented as they were, including the unreasonable assumption that a full and thorough legal analysis of an individual's situation could be formulated simply based on the minute portion of the entirety of the facts and circumstances surrounding any legal matter, which could in no manner possibly be presented here in such a form which would allow for a thorough analysis, evaluation, or legal opinion to be formed by the Attorney.
There are a couple of minor reasons for a couple to file for separation instead of divorce, such as keeping one spouse on another's health insurance or to keep paying taxes at the married rate or because the spouses to meet the residency requirement to file for divorce in Florida, but those don't appear applicable to your case. The main reason to file for separation is a psychological one: it allows a spouse to receive alimony and/or child support while the couple works on the marriage, perhaps through counseling.
But separation in Florida isn't as extensive as it is in some other states. It only allows a judge to order alimony or child support. A judge in Florida can't declare the couple legally separated as is allowed (and sometimes required before divorce) in some other states.
Filing separation is uncommon in Florida because, when one spouse files for separation, the other just thinks "I'm not paying alimony," and countersues for divorce. A divorce case always trumps a separation case.
The contents of this answer should be considered friendly advice, not legal advice (I'm a pretty friendly guy), and the answer should not be construed to constitute an attorney-client relationship. If you'd like actual legal advice, call me for a free consultation at 813-635-0222. Also, if you liked this answer as much as my big ego thinks you did, be sure to click the thumbs-up button!
Sign up to receive a 10-part series of useful information and legal advice about the divorce process.