When a couple no longer wants to be married, they typically have two options: separate or divorce. Not all states allow for a legal separation. However, Florida is one state that does.
A legal separation allows a couple to remain legally married, but live separate lives. The main difference between a separation and a divorce is that a person who is separated cannot remarry without divorcing.
Some couples do not want to divorce for religious or financial reasons. Some religions forbid divorce. A person may not want to divorce so they can keep their spouse’s medical insurance, tax benefits or federal benefits. Some people do not want to divorce because of the stigma attached to being divorced.
While legal separation is not an option in Florida, there are some ways to create formal agreements with your spouse without having to go through the divorce process.
Consider a Limited Divorce
Florida does allow for a limited divorce, which is similar to a legal separation. Also called a bifurcated divorce, a limited divorce allows you to maintain the benefits of being married while living separate lives. You can address various issues in a limited divorce, such as property division, alimony and child custody and support issues.
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that you do not have to assign blame to the other party to pursue a limited divorce. You can choose from one of three reasons: voluntary separation, desertion or cruelty.
The only thing a limited divorce cannot do is allow you to remarry. You would have to go through the process of a full divorce. A limited divorce does not have to progress into a full divorce. You can stay separated for as long as you like or decide to stay married.
Create an Agreement
If you do not want to go through the process of a limited divorce, you and your spouse can still separate informally. You can stay married but live apart by creating an agreement that outlines the terms of your separation. For example, you can agree upon who will pay each bill. If children are involved, you can decide on custody and visitation.
Do note, however, that the court cannot approve such a document, since separation is not allowed in Florida. It will be up to you and your spouse to abide by it.
Taking Legal Action
If you want to end your marriage, but do not want to go through a divorce, seek legal help. A lawyer who understands family law and is familiar with Florida laws can help you achieve the outcome you desire without the need for divorce. Get the advice you need from West Palm Beach family law attorney Eric C. Cheshire. Contact his office at (561) 677-8090 to schedule a consultation.