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Spouses contemplating divorce sometimes decide to live apart for a time. Some couples do this in an attempt to resolve their issues before taking the drastic step of filing for divorce. In other cases, a couple might choose permanent separation when religious beliefs prevent divorce.
Unfortunately, legal separation is not available to couples in Florida. However, with the guidance of a local family attorney, spouses could accomplish similar results without filing for a legal separation. A Boca Raton separation agreements lawyer could help a couple intending to live separately without plans to divorce manage their financial and child custody arrangements.
Couples who intend to separate and not divorce should establish that they live separately. One spouse should vacate the family home. In some cases, both spouses might leave the place where they lived together and establish separate homes.
At the same time, the couple should close any joint financial accounts and start handling their money separately. As long as the couple is still married, they could be responsible for each other’s debts. Although living apart does not extinguish the obligation, one party could secure some protection from their spouse’s debt if they can show that their financial lives are independent.
Dividing marital property can be complex if a couple remains married. However, if spouses intend for their separation to be long-term or permanent, practical considerations might require it. A Boca Raton separation agreement attorney could help a couple handle property division issues if they intend to live separately but not divorce.
Although Florida does not recognize legal separation, Florida case laws makes postnuptial agreements enforceable. A postnuptial agreement is a contract the spouses enter after their marriage. Couples desiring a formal separation could enter a postnuptial agreement that would operate as a separation agreement.
A postnuptial agreement could cover dividing marital property, managing debt and expenses, and issues related to alimony. A postnuptial agreement can make suggestions regarding the issues of child support and the creation of a parenting plan, including timesharing [(child custody/visitation)]. The court reserves the right to decide what is in best interest of the child including child support and parent plan issues. A Boca Raton couple having trouble agreeing on these issues could work with a separation agreement attorney or a mediator to resolve their dispute.
Postnuptial agreements must comply with specific legal requirements to be enforceable. They must be in writing and signed by the parties in front of witnesses. Each party must fully disclose their assets and debts before either party signs. A court could reject an agreement that is unfair to one party or results from coercion, fraud, or duress.
Florida does not recognize separation agreements. Under such circumstance, if a couple does not have a postnuptial agreement, a spouse could ask a court to intervene on specific issues such as spousal support and child support pursuant to Florida Statue 61.09 and 61.10 or for the court to impose a parenting plan regarding the parties’ relationship with their minor children (pursuant to Florida Statue 61.10).
A judge would apply the same standards when considering these requests as if the couple was divorcing. Spousal support hinges on the requesting spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay. The judge will decide all issues relating to children by determining what serves their best interests.
A spouse seeking court intervention must file an appropriate pleading and provide evidence supporting their requests at a hearing before a judge. A Boca Raton separation agreement attorney could help a spouse prepare for a court hearing to secure support or a timesharing (child custody/visitation) not associated with a divorce.
Florida does not offer spouses the option of legal separation. However, with the help of a savvy legal professional, a couple could establish similar protections.
A Boca Raton separation agreement lawyer could speak with a couple or spouse to determine their goals for separation and prepare a strategy to help them meet those goals. Call today to speak with an experienced attorney about your options.