If you and your spouse have agreed to live separate and different lives, and either are not ready to divorce, don’t want to divorce, or in the process of divorcing, you can enter into a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a voluntary agreement between you and your spouse, resolving any issues before taking the next life-altering step. This is when it becomes not only smart, but critical to work with experienced Florida separation attorneys.
Separation is not always permanent or irrevocable; it’s a chance for spouses to live in separate households, with separate finances. There are many reasons couples decide to separate, including to have space, to reevaluate their marriage, and many, many more.
It’s important to know what to expect when deciding on a separation. In most instances, a separation agreement is a preamble to divorce, even when divorce is not the initial intent. Find helpful information on the different areas of separating in Florida below.
If you’re considering a separation and want to explore your options, give The Berman Law Group a call today at (800) 375-5555. Our team of separation lawyers in Florida will review your situation for no charge.
A separation agreement gives a couple the chance to make decisions on life after divorce. It’s a way of seeing what divorce might be like without actually getting divorced. Not only does this let couples see what their future holds, but it’s also a way of bypassing the complicated and deadline-driven divorce process.
There are deadlines and mandatory court conferences that you need to attend when filing for divorce. Willingly signing a separation agreement allows you and your spouse to have a smoother separation process. This, in turn, can lead to a more amicable divorce.
Some issues that are resolved during the agreement include child support, spousal support, and estate planning. A written separation agreement distinctly describes the rights and obligations of you and your spouse, during and after the separation. By signing the agreement, spouses are able to determine the outcome of the divorce proceedings in a civil way. On the other hand, if one spouse fails to oblige, the other spouse can implement the separation agreement in court.
Due to the potential impact separation agreements have on future divorces, it’s a good idea to work with separation attorneys in Florida during the process. This will help to ensure that both you and your partner come to a fair, even agreement and no one feels like they were taken advantage of.
Can I File a Separation Agreement in Florida?
It’s important to point out before going any further that Florida is one of several states that doesn’t have a legal separation process. This doesn’t mean that couples in Florida aren’t able to separate or divorce, but rather it means there is no legal recourse available for couples who want to separate rather than divorce.
Married couples can separate at any time in Florida, but this separation simply isn’t recognized by the courts. Due to this, there isn’t the need to file paperwork when separating in Florida. This means that although separation in Florida offers a number of benefits, which are explored below, it can still lead to a contentious divorce. Agreements made during the separation process aren’t legally enforceable during the divorce.
Despite the lack of formal recognition and the potential for messy court battles down the road, there are benefits to coming to pre-divorce decisions in Florida. This can include laying the groundwork for future spousal and child support agreements, child custody and visitation agreements, and more.
Fundamentals of a Marriage Separation Agreement
Much like any type of legally-binding document, there are certain areas that separation agreements cover. In short, they are a framework or blueprint for how a divorcing couple will move from a couple to individuals.
Separation agreements generally include:
- Who will continue possession of the marital house
- Who will live in the marital house
- Who will be responsible for the expenses of the marital house
- How assets and debts will be divided – property, checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, insurance, vehicles, interest, etc.
- Spousal support
- Spousal benefits
- Terms of parenting plan
Your marriage separation agreement may include other areas, but it all depends on your unique situation. Perhaps you have child from a previous marriage, or own a business with your spouse – these factors can significantly change how you come to an agreement.
This is one more reason Florida separation lawyers provide an immeasurable benefit to couples who are splitting up. Contact us The Berman Law Group today at (800) 375-5555 for a free case review.
Separation agreements also provide the basis for your future parenting plan. This is a legal requirement for all couples divorcing in Florida that have children under the age of eighteen. It’s an umbrella plan for a number of areas, including: how both parents will split the responsibility of raising the children, a time-sharing schedule, child support information, child custody and visitation information, which parent will provide health insurance, an education and extracurricular activity plan, daycare considerations for younger children and how parents will communicate with the children.
Working out these details in advance allows you to have greater control over the outcome of the divorce. This helps eliminate potentially nasty and contentious court battles. Perhaps more importantly, putting together a parenting plan helps make the entire separation and divorce process easier on all children involved.
Challenging a Separation Agreement
Separation agreements usually guarantee validity and smooth sailing, but there are several reasons you or your spouse might challenge the agreement or why a judge will not grant you the separation.
Reasons for challenging a separation agreement include:
- Unfair – if the separation agreement leaves you or your spouse with nothing, the court can disregard the agreement on the grounds that it is unconscionable.
- Coercion – if you or your spouse coerce one another to sign the agreement or do not give you the proper amount of time to consider, the count may not grant the agreement.
- Fraud – failing to disclose you or your spouse’s assets honestly, or secretly withholding assets, can lead to a challenge.
- Separate attorneys – you and your spouse should always have different Florida separation attorney. Having the same attorney can result in unfairness and the agreement may not be enforced.
These are just the most common reasons one party may challenge a separation agreement, but there are many others. Consult with a divorce attorney for a full list.
How Long Can a Legal Separation Last?
A separation agreement is legally binding for as long as you want. Many couples end up filing for divorce, some remain separated indefinitely, and still others remain separated until one party decides to remarry. Couples may choose to stay legally separated because it provides financial benefits like health insurance, social security, or a pension. Some choose to remain married for personal or religious reasons, as well.
Are Marriage Separation Agreements Legally Binding?
Most states recognize legal separation, however, there are some states that do not. Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas are among those that don’t recognize marriage separations. Even though these states don’t recognize legal separation, preparing a separation agreement is still a good idea. It allows the couple to gain insight into what the splitting up process will entail and, in many cases, is the first tangible step many divorcing couples take. In order for the agreements to be enforceable, some states require court approval.
Florida does not recognize legal separation, but Florida does provide a limited divorce, which is very similar. Limited divorces are one of several types of divorce recognized in Florida. Other types include: simplified divorce, contested divorce and uncontested divorce.
A limited divorce can be requested on the grounds of cruelty, desertion and voluntary separation. Under these terms, the Florida court establishes the primary residence of the children and visitation rights. In order to determine child support obligations, Florida requires that the separated parents complete a form providing a list of their income and resources, and a support amount to be paid monthly by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent.
Finding the Right Separation Attorneys in Florida
If you and your spouse are ready to separate but not quite ready to divorce, you’ll want to work with a Florida separation lawyer. This is true despite the fact that Florida doesn’t recognize separation agreements. This isn’t a reason to cut corners or take chances with your future. In fact, in light of the seriousness of separation, this is the last time you want to leave anything to chance.
This is where the experienced and expert Florida separation attorneys at The Berman Law Group enter the picture. We are here to help you through the entire process, from considering separation to filing divorce paperwork. We are here to help be a source of strength and support during a difficult and often overwhelming time.
Contact us today at (800) 375-5555 for a free consultation. We’ve helped hundreds of people through the separation and divorce process, and we can help you too.