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Is Separation Required Before Getting Divorced in Florida?

upset couple

Some states require couples to be legally separated before they can file for divorce. Is the same for Florida? We discuss this and more in the article below.

Separation Vs. Divorce

A legal separation is similar to divorce proceedings in which you ask the court to assist you with making court orders for matters involving child custody, child support, property division, and alimony. Essentially, to "separate" just means that the couple lives apart in different homes.

The main difference between a legal separation and divorce is that the couple is still legally married in a legal separation. This means that neither spouse can get remarried while they are separated - they must get divorced instead.

Can You Legally Separate in Florida?

While there is no law for obtaining a legal separation in Florida, couples can still choose to separate from each other at any point in their marriage. They do not have to notify the court or file any paperwork to do so.

Since the court isn't involved, the couple will have to figure out how to handle their property division matters like splitting joint bank accounts, child custody, and child support through other methods. Spouses can draft an informal separation agreement that addresses these issues. However, if one spouse fails to follow the terms of the agreement, there are no legal options to enforce it.

Child custody matters, on the other hand, do have more protections. If you have children and living separately, either spouse can contact the court for guidance on how to handle custody, visitation, or support. The court can still make custody decisions in cases like this.

Another option is to file a "Petition for Support Disconnected with Dissolution of Marriage." This allows one spouse to receive child support and even spousal support from the spouse who moved out of the marital home without filing for divorce.

Have more questions about separation in Florida? Call our Bartow divorce attorney today at (863) 644-5566.