In Orlando, FL, it’s possible to separate from your spouse without formally ending the marriage. However, it’s always advisable to enter into an agreement to protect yourself in case of a dispute down the road. An experienced Orlando separation agreements lawyer at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC can help guide you and your spouse through the process and draft an agreement that resolves complex issues in advance.
Collectively, our lawyers have over 50 years of experience helping families in Central Florida resolve sensitive divorce and family law cases.
You don’t have to handle your legal separation alone. With an experienced lawyer by your side, you’ll greatly improve your chances of reaching an advantageous agreement. To learn more, call our law offices in Orlando, Florida, at (407) 831-0203 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
How Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC Can Help With a Separation Agreement in Orlando
Marriage can be difficult. Still, deciding to end a marriage is also a difficult choice. In some cases, a couple simply needs time apart to consider their options.
On the other hand, marriage is a financial partnership – and when children are involved, the choice to live apart can become even more difficult. A separation agreement can help give you peace of mind.
Separation can be a complex process. You deserve time to focus on your family and your emotional well-being without having to worry about challenging legal issues. An experienced Orlando divorce attorney at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC, can help you address your concerns and resolve your separation.
When you hire us, you can expect our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers to:
- Carefully listen to your story
- Help you understand your legal rights and obligations
- Negotiate a separation agreement on the most favorable terms possible
- Facilitate mediation between you and your spouse to resolve contested issues
- Provide help with divorce, child custody, and child support matters should you choose to end the marriage
Your family is too important to make complex decisions without legal advice. Our lawyers are always here to help and listen. To learn more about your options during separation, call our team for a free consultation today.
How Is a Legal Separation Different From Divorce?
Some states recognize legal separation. Florida is not one of those states. However, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to decide to move out of the marital home for a period of time.
Legal separation is different from divorce. In a legal separation, the couple remains legally married even while they live apart. So, the couple retains some of the financial perks of marriage, such as employer-sponsored health insurance. On the other hand, each spouse remains responsible for the other’s debts.
A divorce is a legally binding process. Once the couple divorces, they’re only required to abide by the terms of the divorce agreement and any child custody arrangements. In uncontested divorce cases, there are often no ties remaining between the former spouses.
While a separation often precedes a divorce, it can give each spouse time to consider their options before formally filing for divorce. There are no legal requirements for separation. Two spouses are free to live apart yet remain legally married in the State of Florida.
In other words, while Florida courts don’t recognize legal separation, parties are free to voluntarily separate without divorcing. In some cases, they’ll enter into a separation agreement that will govern the terms of the separation.
Why Do Some Couples Prefer Separation to Divorce?
Divorce is a complex legal process in Orange County. It also provides a couple with a sense of finality and closure. However, not every couple who is experiencing marital difficulties is ready to file for divorce.
There are many reasons why a couple might prefer legal separation to divorce.
Some of those reasons include:
- Religious beliefs
- Health insurance benefits
- Employer-sponsored retirement benefits and pensions
- Social Security benefits
- Military benefits
In the end, many couples enter into a separation agreement because they aren’t sure whether they’re ready to divorce. In some cases, time apart can allow a couple to resolve complex issues and eventually continue the marriage. The separation can also spare children from the arguments that can arise prior to deciding to divorce in Florida.
Some couples eventually divorce. Others may get back together – or choose to remain separated indefinitely.
Why Do Some Couples Prefer Divorce to Separation?
Absent domestic violence, perhaps the strongest reason to prefer divorce is the sense of finality it provides. After a divorce is final, the couple’s issues are resolved. Each spouse is then free to move on with their life.
It’s also important to consider potential parentage issues. If a woman becomes pregnant while legally married, the male spouse is considered the presumptive father. Absent divorce or agreement to the contrary, the mother could be required to go through complex procedures to establish paternity.
What Is a Separation Agreement in Florida?
Because Florida doesn’t recognize legal separation, you can’t ask the family court to resolve issues that may arise during the separation. Until the petition for divorce is formally filed, the courts won’t get involved in the complex family and financial matters that may arise.
Still, a couple that chooses to live apart, yet remains legally married, must resolve the same types of issues that arise in a divorce, including:
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Child custody and parenting time
- Asset management
The separation agreement isn’t approved by the courts. However, the agreement is a contract like any other. Two spouses voluntarily enter into an agreement that will dictate the terms of the separation.
To ensure the contract will be enforceable, the agreement should be:
- In writing
- Signed by both parties
A separation agreement doesn’t end your marriage. It’s simply a contract that dictates the terms of a separation.
It’s important to seek legal counsel when entering into a separation agreement. While courts can enforce a binding contract, they can also determine that an agreement is unconscionable if it’s wildly unfair to one spouse.
What Issues Can an Orlando Separation Agreement Address?
A separation agreement can address any issue that might be resolved during the divorce process.
Some common issues that are addressed in a separation agreement include:
- Whether one spouse will provide financial support to the other during separation
- Division of parenting time and responsibilities
- Child support payments
- Property division, including who will remain in the marital home
- Financial responsibilities, such as access to joint bank accounts and investments
- Which spouse will remain responsible for paying household bills
- Whether one spouse can move to another state
- What will happen if a female spouse becomes pregnant during the separation
A separation agreement is legally binding. If one party violates the terms of the agreement, the other can petition the courts to enforce the agreement. That’s true even though Florida doesn’t recognize legal separation and won’t approve the contract in advance.
Separation agreements often resolve complex and crucial issues. It’s important to have a skilled Orlando separation agreements attorney by your side during contract negotiations. Otherwise, you risk entering into an agreement with unfavorable terms.
At Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC, our Orlando divorce lawyers have years of experience drafting separation agreements. We have the tools to help you and your spouse navigate this difficult time. To learn more about our skills and practice areas, all you have to do is call our law firm to schedule a free case review.
Can I Receive Financial Support if My Spouse and I Did Not Sign a Separation Agreement in Orlando?
Yes. It’s possible to petition the courts for support even if you didn’t sign a separation agreement. One spouse can petition the courts to receive spousal support even without filing for divorce. Either spouse can petition the courts for “alimony and child support unconnected with dissolution of marriage” under Florida divorce laws.
The courts will decide whether to grant the petition for support based on the facts and circumstances. So, if one spouse needs support and the other has the ability to pay, the court may order a spouse to pay support even without filing a divorce petition.
If the court orders support, it won’t end the marriage. The order will simply dictate one spouse’s support obligations.
Is a Separation Agreement Required for Spouses to Live Apart?
No. A couple can choose to live apart without entering into a separation agreement. Still, if you plan to separate, entering into an agreement is a smart idea. Like a postnuptial agreement, the agreement can ensure that each party is protected financially during the separation.
A separation agreement can also allow a couple to begin the process of dividing their assets prior to divorce.
Contact an Orlando Divorce Lawyer for a Free Consultation Today
Deciding to separate from a spouse is always a difficult choice. While there may be many reasons to prefer separation over divorce, it’s important to protect yourself. Executing a separation agreement can be the key to resolving sensitive family law matters that may arise while you live apart.
If you’re considering a separation, contact Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC today. An experienced Orlando divorce lawyer can help you understand this area of family law and guide you through the process.