For many reasons, couples in conflict may want to live apart temporarily when they are not prepared to pursue divorce. For example:
- They might prefer to try to work out their differences while residing apart.
- They may want to separate for a trial period to see if they want to make the separation permanent.
- The effects of divorce on issues such as health insurance coverage or retirement plans can make marriage an immediate or long-term necessity.
- Religious beliefs can eliminate divorce as a viable option.
Florida law does not recognize legal separation specifically but it does provide other ways to remain married, while addressing the most important issues decided within a full divorce. Perhaps the most common option involves creating a legally binding separation agreement, which typically addresses all custody and support issues pertaining to the children and may also arrange for spousal support in the event that one party needs financial assistance to live separately over the term of the agreement.
Because these agreements are not court-approved, couples need to negotiate all terms without judicial assistance. However, an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney can guide couples through negotiations to develop a viable agreement. With up-front legal help, this agreement can later serve as a good starting point for reaching agreement on settlement issues in the event couples decide later to divorce.
Another option exists under Florida law to address child and spousal support issues when couples separate without the benefit of a legal contract. The law is known as alimony and child support unconnected with dissolution. With or without a separation agreement, it allows either party to request the courts to grant formal alimony or child support when the other party has the financial means to provide support but fails to do so voluntarily.
When developing the terms of separation for Palm Beach families, Boca Raton divorce attorneys Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. use the same attention to detail they apply when guiding couples through divorce. Your separation may prove to be temporary, but you still need this level of support to protect your family during the separation period.