Legal Separation Vs. Divorce

The differences between legal separation and divorce and why it matters.

Why Choose Legal Separation?

Divorce is a life-changing event and many couples are unsure of whether they want to officially end a marriage. It is not uncommon for couples to want to “get to know each other again” and they try “dating” for a period. For this reason, sometimes legal separation is a more attractive alternative. With both divorce and legal separation, a court order will permanently alter the legal status of the couple. Couples experiencing marital difficulties often weigh the options of legal separation versus divorce. Legal separation is attractive where:

  • Either one or both spouses do not want to divorce for religious or moral reasons
  • Fear that a divorce will cut off much needed access to pensions or Social Security
  • A notion that the couple just needs time apart and may have a change of heart regarding the divorce
  • Apprehension that the divorce process will be costly
  • Concerns that one or both spouses will lose out on valuable tax benefits conferred to married couples
  • A couple doesn’t meet a state’s residency requirements
  • It’s just too stressful to deal with and it’s easier just to stay married.

What Happens Once You File For Divorce?

Separating spouses may wonder what the difference is between the two and whether they are viable options. A spouse who isn’t an income earner may fear that he or she will be without any type of financial support during the interim period between filing for and finalizing the divorce. The Florida Statutes do not recognize legal separation. However pending a divorce, a spouse may be entitled to temporary financial support. Where children are involved, a parent has an ongoing duty to provide support for their child. In states that recognize legal separation, the following items are negotiated or ordered by the court:

  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

In Florida, these items may be addressed at a temporary relief hearing, so that a spouse in need of financial support is not left without any support. At the temporary relief hearing, attorneys fees may also be addressed and awarded, meaning one party may be held responsible for the attorneys fees of both parties.

What To Do?

A knowledgeable family and marital attorney is your best asset during a divorce. At my firm, South Florida Legal Rescue, I can readily answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Whether it’s questions of child support, alimony, temporary support, or any other family law matter, I will be able to advise you regarding your legal predicament. I am attorney Jennifer H. Milne, and I only practice marital and family law. I am a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and have advised numerous other individuals of their rights and options during a divorce. Attorney-prepared divorce flat fee pro se packages start as low as $350. Divorce should and can be affordable. Call today for a free phone consultation at 561-303-0400. South Florida Legal Rescue serves Palm Beach and Broward County.