Divorces almost always include strong emotions such as anger, fear, and resentment. Once their marriage turns unsuccessful, experiencing such a stressful period in their lives is unavoidable for many couples.
However, despite their marriage not working, some couples choose separation instead of divorce. The reasons for that are numerous. Sometimes spouses are aware their marriage is in crisis but think divorce is not appropriate at the moment. In other cases, they want to protect their children from the negative impact of the divorce procedure. Often, there is still hope for a life together, so spouses try not to end it too soon by filing for divorce. Finally, there are some religious and ethical beliefs, because of which in some conservative communities ending a marriage is not a reason to celebrate, euphemistically speaking.
A marital separation agreement is a legally binding contract which deals with child custody, alimony, property division, and spousal support. Divorce is a procedure that terminates the marriage, unlike marital separation in which the couples remain married.
In Florida, there are no statutes on legal separation. That means couples cannot file to formalize legal separation since courts cannot enforce a separation agreement.
Florida law doesn’t prohibit couples from entering into legal agreements in general. They can freely determine all the aspects of a potential divorce. The only distinction between Florida and other jurisdictions that permit formal separation agreements is that courts in Florida do not approve or resolve disputes stemming from those agreements.
The other way to obtain similar effects as a marital separation agreement in Florida is by drafting and signing a postnuptial agreement after the spouses have decided to physically separate from one another. In that case, if both spouses are voluntarily abiding by the terms of the contract, there is no need to file it in court, and the results are identical to the marital separation agreement. On the other hand, if one party breaches one or more provisions, the other party may seek judicial intervention by presenting the signed postnuptial agreement in court.
Apart from emotional and ethical reasons for marital separation, some entirely practical considerations lead couples to choose legal separation over divorce.
Firstly, healthcare coverage of a spouse on another partner’s plan ends with divorce. On the other hand, marital separations allow this coverage to continue.
Furthermore, social security benefits increase after a couple has been married for a certain number of years, and that is another benefit of marital separation over divorce.
In addition, marital separation allows couples to file taxes as if they are in a marriage rather than filing them individually.
In the end, there are certain benefits for people married to military service members, provided that the marriage lasts at least ten years. Hence, martial separation enables military spouses to continue their marriage, which entitles them to access the mentioned benefits.
Although Florida doesn’t formally recognize legal separation, spouses are separated if they maintain separate residences and pay their expenses. In such a case, each spouse can file an action to obtain child or spousal support even without initiating the divorce procedure. There is also the possibility of signing the postnuptial agreement. It has the same effects as a marital separation agreement, as long as spouses comply with the terms.
Visit with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
There is a lot of misinformation out there about divorce, and while it’s true that many people don’t have an attorney, this article will provide you with an idea of how to evaluate a marital separation agreement in Florida. An experienced lawyer such as Carolann Mazza can help draft up good agreements, so when divorce occurs, they’re able to make sure everything goes according to plan without any hiccups or obstacles in place before then!