Can You Be Legally Separated in Florida?

Every marriage goes through rough patches. In some cases, couples are pushed to the brink, but survive, and, in fact, become even closer as a result. Other couples aren’t as lucky, and a rough patch becomes the beginning of the end of their union.

When you’re having marriage problems, it can be difficult to tell whether it’s just a speed bump on the road to happily ever after or if you need to start thinking about divorce (known as dissolution of marriage in Florida). That’s why many couples decide to take a break from one another when their marriage troubles look like they’re about to get the best of them.

Spending time apart can allow spouses to clear their heads and figure out whether they feel like their marriage is worth fighting for or not. In some states, couples can file for legal separation if they decide to live separately. However, in Florida, there is no legal separation.

Is It Illegal to Live Separately from My Spouse in Florida?

No, the police are not going to surround your home and arrest you for living apart from your spouse. However, unlike in states where legal separation is allowed, if a married couple chooses to live separately in Florida, it can be much more difficult to deal with the following issues unless they file for divorce:

Even though married couples in Florida lose out on the some of the protections and benefits that legal separation provides, they can legally live apart while residing in the Sunshine State. However, just because it’s not against the law for married couples to live apart in Florida, doesn’t mean that doing so comes without issues.

Problems that can arise while married couples live separately in Florida include:

  • Out-of-State Move – Depending on how long a couple lives separately, one or both spouses’ lives could drastically change. For instance, one of the spouses may be forced to move to another state for a job opportunity, which would make their situation even more complicated, especially if they eventually decide to get a divorce.
  • Pregnancy – If while the couple is separated, the wife becomes pregnant, even if her husband is not the baby’s father, he will be legally considered the child’s father until the mother, husband, and alleged father file for a paternity test to determine which man is the unborn child’s biological/legal father.
  • Dating Issues – Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the divorce doesn’t depend on either spouse proving wrongdoing by the other spouse (a common example of a reason for a no-fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences”). In a no-fault divorce state, adultery is much less likely to have an impact on a divorce than it would in a state without no-fault divorce. However, that does not mean that dating while living separately from a spouse will have no impact on a divorce. In some cases, who a person is dating, and how the person they’re dating interacts with their children, can negatively affect child custody, child support, and visitation decisions. In addition, if a person who is married and living apart from their spouse moves in with someone they’re dating, it can have a negative impact on alimony/spousal support decisions if/when the person or their spouse eventually seeks a divorce.
  • Financial Problems – Since spouses are still legally married no matter how long they live separately in Florida, that means that their finances will remain entangled until they get a divorce. So, if one spouse racks up more debt, some of that debt could still be the other spouse’s responsibility. On the flip side, if a person acquires an asset while married but living separately, their spouse may have a partial claim on that asset.

Thinking About Divorce? Discuss Your Situation with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Ending a relationship, especially one you thought would last the rest of your life, is never easy. At Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa, we understand that. That’s why our clients can expect compassion and commitment when they work with us.

Our law firm focuses exclusively on family law and divorce, so we have a wealth of knowledge about separation and the divorce process. When it comes time to face the other side, our experienced divorce lawyers will aggressively pursue the outcome you are seeking.

Check out our clients’ testimonials to learn more about why we are one of the premiere family law firms in the Miami-Dade area.

For more information about our law firm, or divorce in Florida, reach out to us online or give us a call at (305) 853-9161 to schedule a consultation.