Can Couples get Legally Separated in Florida?
Sometimes, a couple goes through some problems and considers divorce, but neither spouse is certain that is the right option. When this is the case, the couple may decide to legally separate. Florida is one of the few states that does not recognize legal separation. However, when couples need to live apart and perhaps let cooler heads prevail in the future, they do have some options.
An Informal Agreement
Sometimes, couples are able to live separately and still come to an informal agreement on certain terms such as equitable distribution, parental responsibility and timesharing, and more. When such an agreement can be reached, couples will live as though they are divorced, but will still remain legally married. This is often beneficial when the couple decides that they do not want to divorce after all. After making this decision, the couple can simply start living together again without any legal process involved.
It is important to understand that an informal agreement may not be recognized by the courts in the event that one spouse decides they want to proceed with a divorce. Unless there is a legally binding and enforceable contract in place, the court will make the final decision on all terms if the case goes to litigation.
A postnuptial agreement is a good example of the type of legally binding contract a couple can use to enforce the terms of their informal separation. Postnuptial agreements are very similar to prenuptial agreements. They are a contract that outlines different terms such as property division, and alimony in the event that the couple decides to get a divorce. The only difference is that while a premarital agreement is drafted before a couple gets married, a postnuptial agreement can be drafted any time after the marriage.
It is important for both spouses to understand that when drafting a postnuptial agreement, they can certainly lock in certain terms such as alimony and property division. However, while parents can include a parenting plan within their postnuptial agreement, this does not necessarily mean that the child custody arrangements within the contract will be upheld in the event that the couple divorces. This is because a judge will determine what is in the child’s best interests and, if the agreement does not reflect that, a judge will make the final decision based on what they think is best for the child.
Need Help with a Postnup? Call Our Florida Divorce Lawyers Today
Although a postnuptial agreement can provide a way for couples to separate if they wish, there are certain elements that must be included in order for them to be enforced by the courts. To ensure that your postnup will provide the protection you had counted on, call our Orlando family lawyers at O’Mara Law Group. We will walk you through the process of drafting an agreement, ensure the contract protects your best interests, and that the courts will enforce it. When you need legal advice, call us at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.