Legal Separation

legal separationOverview on Legal Separation

There is NO legal separation in Florida. This is one of the most popular myths in Florida. There may be some states that have the concept of legal separation. In those states you can prepare a filing for legal separation and have it heard in the local court. But there is no legal separation defined in the Florida statutes.



There is a Florida Substitute to Filing for Legal Separation


  • You can petition the court for child support during a marital separation
  • In some cases, you can petition the court for alimony during a marital separation. This type of temporary alimony award seems to be extremely rare.

An Excerpt from the Florida Statute on Legal Separation


“Alimony and Child Support Unconnected With Dissolution – If a person having the ability to contribute to the maintenance of his or her spouse and support of his or her minor child fails to do so, the spouse who is not receiving support or who has custody of the child or with whom the child has primary residence may apply to the court for alimony and for support for the child without seeking dissolution of marriage, and the court shall enter an order as it deems just and proper.”

The Bottom Line on Legal Separation


The Bottom Line: The courts will usually be willing to enter an order requiring child support. There is a strong public policy in Florida requiring parents to support their children. Alimony is more difficult to get – without a divorce proceeding. If you need alimony and the factors are in your favor – you should go ahead and get a divorce. Alimony is always easiest to get as part of a divorce. In either case, the court may deny any support and suggest the proper method is to file for divorce. Unless you have unique reasons for needing support during a separation, divorce is your best recourse.

What are the grounds for filing for legal separation?


Again, Florida does not specifically have a legal separation statute. If you are married, separated, and have children, you may have sufficient grounds to file for child support. Florida courts have available a type of lawsuit called an “action for support.”

What is a separation?


If you have minor children, you are separated if you live with the children – apart from your spouse, do not share bank accounts, and each person is paying for their own household expenses.

Separation and Divorce – If we are separated, will this affect a later divorce?


The date of separation is a key date. It is used to mark the beginning of the duty of child support. In a later divorce, child support arrears are usually calculated from the start of the marital separation.

How do I go about filing for Legal Separation


There is no action for separation in Florida. But there is a specific action for child support. This is accomplished by filing a petition for child support against the other parent. This type of lawsuit is filed in the same court and before the same judge as a divorce action.


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