What is the Difference between Filing for Divorce and Legal Separation?

Generally speaking, a divorce ends a marriage and a legal separation does not. Every state has a different set of laws when it comes to defining separation and establishing divorce. In Florida, there is no such thing as a legal separation. Even if you and your spouse are physically separated and living in different households, you are still considered married. In order to end your marriage and be seen as legally separated, you will have to file for and obtain a divorce.

If you are not ready to get divorced, but you and your spouse have agreed to live apart, you can still negotiate the terms of your separation with one another. When you have children, you’ll have to decide how to share the costs of raising those kids and where the children will live during your separation. If one spouse earns an income and the other one does not, you’ll also have to put some type of alimony in place. When the separation is amiable and perhaps temporary, you can probably decide these things together. However you are probably better served by seeking counsel from an attorney so you can be sure all parties are being treated fairly.

Divorce can be scary and final, but it remains the only way to end a marriage. Your separation will not carry any legal merit in a state like Florida. If you are hoping to reconcile with your spouse, a short separation might be helpful. However, if you are both sure that the marriage is ultimately going to end, there is no sense in delaying the divorce proceedings.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.