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Legal Separation Doesn’t Exist in Florida – But You Can Still Get One

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 21, 2022

If you want to legally leave your spouse, there are generally three possible options available to you – divorce, annulment, and separation. Most states recognize all of these in some way, shape, or form, and offer the ability to make them legally binding.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with separation in our state. For some reason, the powers that be in Florida have never seen fit to formally recognize separation legally. This is a big deal for people who need the legal protections that come with divorce, but don’t want to actually get divorced – for religious reasons or otherwise. 

Before you start thinking about moving to a different state, though, hang on. Even though there is technically no way to get legally separated in Florida, there are things you can do to create a legal separation in practice. In other words, there are workarounds to provide you with the same protections that people in states with legal separation enjoy – you just have to understand how to use them.

Here, we’ll tell you how you can separate from your spouse and ensure that both of you are legally protected.

File for A ‘Limited Divorce’

While you can’t file for separation from your spouse, you can offer grounds for a limited divorce – which is essentially the same thing. If you agree to voluntarily separate and ask the court for help, they will determine where any children will have their primary residence and help to create a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent.

Both of you will be required to list income and resources, and the court will determine any child support that the noncustodial parent must pay.

Turn in Petitions for Support

There are also specific petitions that can be filed in Florida which deal with support requests for couples that are not getting a divorce. They fall under the umbrella of Petition for Support Unconnected with Dissolution, and offer a way to request child support, help with a parenting plan, and even alimony.

Create a Postnuptial Agreement

Perhaps the most all-encompassing way to get legal protection for a separation is to create a postnuptial agreement. Most people believe that these agreements are just for divorcing couples, but that’s not actually true.

While they absolutely do cover each party’s rights and obligations in the event of divorce or death, they also apply during the marriage. This is particularly beneficial in situations involving separation, because it is possible to set out specific rules and guidelines that must be followed depending on the actions of either party.

So, for example, if you decide to separate and one of you moves out, a postnup can detail things like:

  • Who gets the kids

    • How parenting time will be shared

    • What alimony will be paid

    • What child support will be paid

In order for nuptial agreements to be valid, they must meet certain requirements that the State of Florida has determined.

What all of this means in the end is that if you’re hesitant about getting a divorce in Florida, you have options. There are a number of ways out of an uncomfortable relationship situation. The trick is in knowing how to get what you want and make sure you and your loved ones stay legally protected.