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Living Separate and Apart Versus a Legal Separation


If you are having significant problems in your marriage, you might be considering a divorce. Prior to your divorce, you may be thinking about living separate and apart from your spouse, which you might also consider to be a separation. It is extremely important to understand that a separation, or living separate and apart, is not the same thing as a legal separation. Our experienced Orlando family law attorneys routinely assist clients who need help with separation and divorce in Florida, and we want to provide you with some additional information about living separate and apart, and legal separations.

Florida Does Not Recognize a Legal Separation 

The Florida Statutes do not specifically recognize a legal separation or provide any legal requirements for a separation. As such, Florida is distinct from a number of other states that do outline terms for a legal separation and, in effect, permit spouses to go through many of the processes associated with divorce (e.g., property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support) without getting divorced. In Florida, there is no similar statutory recognition of a legal separation.

Why would spouses want a legal separation? There are a number of reasons. For example, one spouse might need regular medical care for a chronic condition and may rely on the spouse’s health insurance plan. Or, for instance, the parties might want to avoid divorce for religious reasons.

You Can Reach an Enforceable Agreement About Support After Being Separated 

Just because Florida’s statutory law does not recognize legal separation does not mean that spouses cannot enter into a legally enforceable agreement concerning some of those issues mentioned above, specifically support. A divorce lawyer can discuss this process with you.

Living Separate and Apart is Not Necessary for Your Divorce 

If you are considering the possibility of filing for divorce in Florida, a separation can help you and your spouse to determine whether divorce is the right decision for you. However, you should know that Florida law does not require you to live separate and apart from your spouse in order for you to be eligible to get divorced in the state. While Florida does have certain residency requirements and requires that the spouse filing for divorce pleads that the marriage is irretrievably broken, there is no specific “separate and apart” requirement under Florida law.

The requirements for divorce can be confusing, especially if you have a friend or family member who recently got divorced in another state. It is critical to understand that, while some states do require a specific and sometimes lengthy period of living separate and apart in order to be eligible to file for divorce, Florida’s divorce laws are distinct from those in other states.

Contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney for Assistance 

If you have questions about getting separated or divorced in Florida, or if you need help developing an enforceable agreement concerning spousal support or child support as a result of a separation, you should seek advice from an Orlando divorce attorney. One of the experienced lawyers at our firm can answer your questions and can discuss your options. Contact Anderson & Ferrin to learn more about the services we provide to clients in Central Florida.

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