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Separation Vs. Divorce

Separation Vs. Divorce

Ending your marriage is hard, no matter your situation.

Maybe you asked for a divorce, but you’re conflicted because you don’t want your children to suffer. You want to make the right decision for your kids and yourself.

After you’ve given your spouse some time to consider your request, they ask you for a separation instead.

In your head, divorce and separation are the same. In reality, they are two different options.

Florida family law does not recognize the types of “legal” separation that other states do. There is no petition or form that can be filed that will allow spouses to be legally or financially separated without going through a divorce.

While spouses can live apart, their marital status remains the same unless they decide to get a formal divorce.

Before blindly deciding to separate instead of getting a divorce, knowing each option is essential. Understanding the difference between separations and divorces can help you make the best decision for yourself, your spouse, and the rest of your family.

Separating from your spouse is complex and life-changing. During this stage of your life, you need a reliable divorce lawyer to help protect your rights and guide you through this process.

The Vasquez de Lara Law Group team understands the logistical and emotional difficulties of divorce. We’re here for you every step of the way. Our goal is to provide you with the best service and to help you achieve your desired outcome from your divorce.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a divorce in Miami, call the Vasquez de Lara Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

What is a Separation?

A separation is when you stop your marriage without formally ending it. In many cases, the spouses move away from each other. They may start seeing new people or exploring different parts of their lives they couldn’t before. It’s important to note that in Florida, any time you are separated, you’re still considered married. Therefore all income, all debts, and all actions taken are still considered marital.

While not required in Florida, a separation agreement can help you and your estranged spouse outline property ownership, financial agreements, and arrangements for your children.

You and your spouse can write the agreement on your own, but it’s best practice to work with a divorce attorney as soon as possible after making a major family change like separation or divorce. You don’t know what you don’t know. So preparing an agreement without legal advice can seriously harm you and your children in the long run.

Legal documents can be complicated, so a lawyer can help you craft an agreement that works for you and your spouse.

Separation Vs. Divorce

The main difference between separation and divorce is that a divorce ends your marriage. Another way to look at it is that, with a separation, you maintain your current marital status.

The only way you can legally get remarried is if you end your current marriage through divorce. Divorces cannot be undone unless you remarry, but you can easily reverse your separation if you and your spouse decide to give your marriage another try.

Here are some other ways that separation and divorce differ:

  • Health care: With a separation, you still share health care and other benefits with your spouse, while with divorce, these benefits end.
  • Decision-making rights: While separated, you can still make medical or financial decisions for your spouse, but this stops once you’re divorced.
  • Property rights: If you’re divorced, you no longer have property rights after your spouse dies; you keep these rights while separated. Divorce also requires deciding on how to divide marital property.

While separation and divorce are different, they have similar processes. For example, you should create an agreement on property, finances, spousal support, child support, and child custody. The agreement does not get filed in court in a separation until you actually go forward with your divorce.

Reasons for a Separation

Take a look at some reasons why you might choose a separation over a divorce:

  • You’re unsure about divorce, or you have hopes of reconciling
  • You want to maintain health care, social security, or tax benefits
  • You can’t get divorced for religious reasons

Why You Might Choose a Divorce

Here are some considerations for getting divorced:

  • You want to get remarried or date other people
  • You want to stop all connections with your spouse
  • You’re sure counseling or time apart won’t solve your issues

Have More Questions? Call a Divorce Attorney

Going through the divorce process or a separation can be uncertain. You’re unsure what to do or how to solve your legal issues with your spouse. All you want is to make the process as simple as possible.

We want to help you navigate your divorce at Vasquez de Lara Law Group. We work for you and your best interests.

Call us today to schedule a free case review.

Frequently Asked Questions About Separation

How long does a separation last?

Since Florida law doesn’t recognize separation as a legal marital status, your separation can last as long as you and your spouse want. For example, if you want to work out your issues or try living on your own for six months, you can do that. At the end of your separation, you should decide with your spouse whether you want to get divorced.

You can continue living with a permanent separation arrangement but remember that you cannot remarry until legally divorced.

How does a legal separation differ from a separation?

Legal separation is similar to a divorce in that spouses can seek orders for child support, custody, the division of property and debt, and spousal support. It is not a divorce because after the legal separation process, the couple is still technically married.

Florida is one of only a few states that does not have a legal separation process in place. This means that you are not required to—and, in fact, cannot—request a family law court to put the above-mentioned orders in place. Those details must be determined during the formal divorce process.

What if I want a separation and my spouse wants a divorce?

In most situations, divorce presides over separation. You can’t make your spouse agree to amend or prolong your marriage. You should respect their wishes, but you could always ask for a trial separation before making anything official.

Should I move out after a separation?

Whether you move out after a separation is up to you. If you feel safer or more comfortable moving away from your spouse, do so. Moving out can also help each party decide if divorce or separation is the best option.
However, it may be better to remain in your marital home if possible. Moving out can affect support, timesharing, and other marital assets.

Author Bio

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara is the founder and owner of Vasquez de Lara Law Group, a Miami family law firm. With over 20 years of experience in family law, she has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and other family law cases.

Vanessa received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002 and is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named to the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and the 2016-2023 Super Lawyers list.

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