Does Florida Recognize Legal Separation?

Many jurisdictions require spouses to be legally separated for a certain period of time (oftentimes about 6-12 months) before they can get a divorce.

Florida does not have such a requirement.

However, there are many couples out there who wish to go through a “trial separation” without taking the leap of divorce.  Many want an interim step short of divorce to maintain the possibility that the parties can work things out later and reconcile.  Does Florida have any mechanisms to provide protections to spouses and children during a trial separation?

Florida has two ways in which a couple could go through a trial separation without committing to divorce but with rules in place.

The first possibility is the drafting of a post-nuptial agreement.  A post-nuptial agreement is very much like a prenuptial agreement, except that it is signed during, rather than before, a marriage.  Most people think a post-nuptial agreement will only address the events that occur if spouses divorce (such as how property will be divided, whether and how much alimony will be awarded, etc.).  However, it can also address rules for the relationship during the marriage, such as how marital funds will be spent, and how the spouses will treat one another.

For anyone considering a post-nuptial agreement, I urge them to utilize the collaborative process, in which (i) a neutral facilitator is used to help the spouses focus on what is important and improve their communication skills and (ii) a financial professional helps the spouses budget for the future and increase the understanding of their finances.  Also, as I have previously written regarding prenuptial agreements, a lawyer who is not utilizing the collaborative process to help parties reach a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement is just asking for a malpractice lawsuit.

The second possibility for a trial separation is an action known as “Support Unrelated to Dissolution of Marriage.”  As the name suggests, this allows a married person to receive spousal support and child support without ending their marriage.  This type of action even permits a parenting plan to be created which addresses time-sharing (formerly known as child custody) and the ability to make decisions concerning a child’s health and well-being.

For many of the same reasons that I urge parties considering a post-nuptial agreement to utilize the collaborative process, I strongly suggest that clients who want support unconnected with dissolution of marriage to settle within the collaborative model.  There is a reason that the client is not asking for divorce, and it usually has to do with maintaining the possibility of reconciliation.  The collaborative model gives spouses a better chance of reconciling, as they are not engaging in destructive court battles and the facilitator is increasing their communication and co-parenting skills.

If you have questions regarding post-nuptial agreements, support unconnected with dissolution of marriage, or the collaborative family law process, schedule a consultation with Adam B. Cordover, a Tampa Bay Family Law Attorney, at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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One Response to Does Florida Recognize Legal Separation?

  1. Pingback: ABC Family Law Blog > Does Florida Recognize Legal Separation? | ABC Collaborative Divorce Blog

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