Legal Separation
Radeline Law Firm Expert Divorce Attorney Inheritance and Divorce in Florida
Divorce, Inheritance, Florida, Probate, Will, Estate
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Legal Separation

Legal Separation in Florida

Many people ask us, What Are the Grounds for Legal Separation in Florida?  Some states do have legal separation, and separation has its own set of rules that may be different from divorce in that state.

However, Florida does not have legal separation.  You are either married, or not married.  This is true even if you and your spouse are living apart in separate households.  This is true even if you have been living separate lives for many years.  This is true even if you and your spouse both have new fiancés.

Being separated in Florida without getting divorced is a recipe for disaster!  The reason is because you are still married.  And when you are married to someone, all of the debts that they  incur, even on their own, are presumed to be marital debts.  Whatever income you earn, even through your own job that has nothing to do with your spouse, is considered a marital asset.  All that money you put into your 401(k)?  That is most likely going to be considered a marital asset and divided equally by the judge, even though you and your spouse are living apart and living separate lives!

This may be an extreme example, but if you are your spouse are living apart and you win the lottery, you can be assured that your spouse will try to take half of the winnings as a marital asset.  You get the point.

A more common example is you and your spouse are living apart and your spouse has some medical problem arise–  cancer, a heart attack, or an accident at work.  Guess what?  When the time comes to get divorced, your spouse may now be entitled to alimony because of their inability to work or because of their medical condition.  Had you gotten divorced sooner (note:  I’m not trying to encourage divorce if you have a happy marriage, but I am talking about the example of two spouses living separate lives but who are still legally married), you may have totally avoided that alimony situation.

What if you are the spouse who needs help from your ex?  Sometimes, a spouse is cheating themselves out of what is rightfully theirs by delaying divorce.  Let me explain.  If you are entitled to child support because your ex has left you and your ex is not helping with the bills, then every month that goes by is one more month your children have unmet needs.  It is almost always best to file for divorce rather than live separately in a state of legal limbo.

But, if you absolutely cannot bring yourself to file for divorce, there is a way you can sort of create your own “Legal Separation” in Florida.  With the assistance of an experienced and Board Certified divorce attorney such as Mr. Radeline, we can draft a settlement agreement that allows you and your spouse to remain  married but address some of the legal issues that may arise, including division of marital assets and debts, alimony, child support, and the like.  It takes skill to make sure these agreements are prepared in the proper manner so that they are legally binding.  A contract written is worthless if it does not comply with the law.  Worse yet, it is worthless if it does not comply with the law as it will exist on some future date.  You heard that correctly–  the agreement needs to be legal as of the time you divorce, and not just legal now.  Since no one has a crystal ball to forecast the future, you will need a divorce attorney who knows the law, and knows the trends in the law, so they can best protect your interests.

Another way to sort of replicate “Legal Separation” is to seek support unconnected with dissolution even though you are not filing for divorce.  Although an option, this usually does not make sense.  The court filing fee is the same, and you cannot divide marital assets or debts using this method.  You will still have to ultimately file for divorce, and it will just cost you double in terms of court costs because you must have two separate cases at two separate times.

Whether you need Legal Separation or need to be divorced, Mr. Radeline can help.  Contact us right now so that we can begin to protect you and your future.  It is never too early or too late to have an experienced attorney on your side.

FAQ on Legal Separation:

What Are the Grounds for Legal Separation in Florida?  Some states do have legal separation, and it has its own set of rules that may be different from divorce in that state.  However, Florida does not have legal separation.  You are either married, or not married.  This is true even if you and your spouse are living apart in separate households.  This is true even if you have been living separate lives for many years.  This is true even if you and your spouse both have new fiancés.

How do I file for legal separation in Florida?  You can’t, because it does not exist.  There is a way you can sort of create your own “Legal Separation” in Florida.  With the assistance of an experienced and expert Board Certified divorce attorney such as Mr. Radeline, we can draft a settlement agreement that allows you and your spouse to remain  married but address some of the legal issues that may arise, including division of marital assets and debts, alimony, child support, and the like.  It takes skill to make sure these agreements are prepared in the proper manner so that they are legally binding.  A contract written today and signed by both husband and wife is worthless if it does not comply with the law.

What is Alimony Unconnected with Dissolution?   What is Child Support Unconnected with Dissolution?  You can file a court case for either alimony or child support while still remaining married, even though you are not filing for divorce.  But you should not do it, except is extremely rare cases.  Why?  The court filing fee is the same for divorce or one of the support unconnected cases, and you cannot divide marital assets or debts using this method like you can with divorce.  You will still have to ultimately file for divorce, and it will just cost you double in terms of court costs because you must have two separate cases at two separate times.

What is separation?  In its legal sense in Florida, separation is when you and your spouse are living apart.  It does mark the beginning of when child support may become due and payable.  It may be a marker for the end-point valuation of marital assets and debts.  But it does not have its own legal status like divorce.

Does separation affect divorce?  Yes, it can but only if you have a legally binding separation agreement in place.  Having a properly written legal separation agreement can help minimize your risk of any negative effects in your divorce.  The date of separation can affect valuation of marital assets and debts and it can affect support.  Again, it is best to file for divorce than live in the legal limbo of “separation.”  Contact Mr. Radeline now at 727-785-1540 so that we can begin to help you with your case.  It is never too early or too late to seek sound legal advice.