The path of separation, no matter what your reasons are (religious, financial, medical, or something else) can be a challenge to navigate on your own, and when there are children involved, the complexities and emotional implications are only amplified. Separation is not a decision to be taken lightly; there are many things to understand in order to successfully execute the process, the most important being an arrangement for your children.
Understanding Legal Separation
While a majority of states recognize legal separation agreements, the state of Florida does not. This means that you can maintain separate households and finances without involving the court at all. However, there are several legal actions you can take, like requesting child support, that will simplify your separation.
Unlike a divorce, a separation does not require you to officially terminate your marriage. It can, however, offer you a framework to address other issues while remaining married. This can be beneficial to couples who wish to maintain healthcare coverage, tax benefits, or are waiting to ensure that divorce is the right path for them.
Some people believe that if they live separately for a long enough period of time, their separation converts to a divorce, but this is not the case. While you do not have to go through a legal process to obtain a separation, you do if you are looking to legally divorce your spouse.
The Impact On Children
Though separation is not as permanent as divorce is, the emotional implications are still profound and can be challenging to navigate, especially for your children. Making the decision to live apart from your spouse, even if it is temporary, impacts your children just as much as you, if not more so. Not only is it a disruption to their stability and day-to-day routines, but it may ignite emotions they have not yet experienced.
Research has found that children struggle the most during the first year of a separation/divorce, and the emotional effects can vary depending on age. For example, from the age of 18 months to 3 years old children bond the most to their parents. If couples separate during this time frame, children will have a more difficult time comprehending and accepting the change. In order for children who are a bit older to make sense of the situation, they often view themselves as the cause of their parents’ split. As for teenagers, they may exhibit risky behaviors, or have severe shifts in their mood and mental health. This is why prioritizing your children’s well-being in the wake of a separation is of the utmost importance. Even though you do not need a court order for separation, you do need to create a custody/time-sharing arrangement in the best interest of your children.
Additionally, you should attempt to collaborate with your children’s other parents on co-parenting mechanisms that can help limit the disruption of your separation in your children’s lives. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Utilizing online apps that allow you to create and share schedules for holidays, special events, and more with one another.
- Staying positive about the time your children spend with their other parent to help them maintain their connection to you both.
- Try to establish a basic level agreement where you can discuss issues like education, health, and more to avoid confusion or inconsistency for your children.
Legal Aspects Of Separation With Children
Although you are able to separate in Florida without a court order, you can still petition the court for child custody matters.
In Florida, child custody is divided into two main categories: time-sharing and parental responsibility. Time-sharing pertains to the amount of time children spend with each parent, and parental responsibility pertains to which parent holds the decision making powers when it comes to matters like education, healthcare, and more. Creating a custody arrangement that designates these responsibilities to the prospective parent can be an emotionally charged process. Obtaining assistance from an experienced child custody attorney is in your best interest if you wish to resolve the complexities that separation with children can entail without letting your emotions cloud your best judgment.
Child support may be another topic of conversation between you and your co-parent in the event of separation. In the state of Florida, child support is calculated based upon a variety of factors which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Net income of both parents
- Number of overnights the child spends with each parent
- Costs of daycare and education
- Health insurance costs paid by the parents
- Number of children
The Role Of A Family Attorney
If you and your spouse are seriously considering separation in Florida, and you have kids, it is important to enlist the help of a skilled family law attorney for the sake of your family. A family attorney can assist you in creating a custody arrangement that clarifies you and your co-parent’s roles and fulfills the needs of your children to minimize the impact of your separation on their lives. Having professional representation in your corner can give you an advantage in negotiations so that your rights and interests are protected throughout the entire process of creating a child custody and child support arrangement in the midst of separation.
How Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm Can Help You
If you and your spouse can no longer make your relationship work, the divorce attorneys at Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm will explain your options and advise you on the next steps to achieving your desired outcome. We care about your family’s well-being, so we will work diligently to craft a strategy that supports your goals. Do not go through this difficult time on your own. Call Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm today to request a consultation.