What is a Legal Separation?

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Hello and welcome to 60 Seconds with Sergio. I am your host, Sergio Cabanas, Attorney-at-Law here in Florida. Thank you for joining me today.

Today’s question is: Sergio, my spouse and I are interested in having some type of legal separation. How do we go about doing that in the state of Florida?

Well, in short, Florida recognizes where one has a legal marriage and Florida law recognizes where one has a legal divorce. But what about this gray area in between? Well, Florida law doesn’t really recognize what may be referred to in some places as a legal separation.

Of course, from a practical standpoint, it’s very common for married couples to end up separating before a divorce is ever finalized. For example, they may decide to sleep in separate beds, or separate bedrooms, they may even decide to live apart completely. Often, they separate the marital assets and the marital debts, and they each go about living their own separate lives.

Now, there are many reasons why a couple choose to separate without getting a divorce. For example, they may want to stay married for religious reasons, immigration requirements, financial or medical reasons, or for their children, and the list goes on.

If you find yourself in this situation, consider entering into what’s called a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is basically a contract between spouses that outlines the ownership of financial assets in the event of a divorce. It’s kind of like a contract that stipulates who gets what during their separation.

So, we can use a postnuptial agreement to acknowledge that the parties have agreed to, number 1: a separation as of a certain firm date. Number 2: it also delineates the separation of assets and debts as of that date. And number 3: it establishes that any assets and debts or income that’s generated thereafter will be considered separate and non-marital.

This allows for the parties to acquire assets, debts, and incomes during their separation, without worrying about the other spouse getting involved in this financial transactions whether they wanted it or not.

When one or both spouses decide to move forward with a divorce, the spouses have the ability to enforce the terms and conditions of the postnuptial agreement, that already acknowledges a separation, as well as a separation of assets and debts. This allows for a quicker easier and less expensive divorce.

I hope this short video provided you with some guidance over a commonly asked question about these “legal separations” in the state of Florida. Of course, this is not a substitute for an actual consultation with an attorney who can review the specific circumstances of your case.

Thank you again for joining me today. And as always, stay informed so you can stay strong.

Hello and welcome to our show 60 Seconds with Sergio. I am your host, Sergio Cabanas, Attorney-at-Law here in Florida. Thank you for joining me today.

Today’s question is: “Sergio, how does the divorce process work in Florida?”

The best way of answering that question is by first examining the marriage relationship itself from a legal perspective.

I understand. A lot of people view marriage from an emotional, psychological, or even a religious perspective where two individuals commit to having a relationship forever. However, we cannot overlook the fact that the marriage creates a legal relationship, often considered to be a legal contract, that gives individuals rights regarding the other spouse that others that are outside the marriage do not share.

These rights can include, for example, ownership rights over assets that are acquired during the marriage. Also, decision-making authority over the other’s medical care under certain circumstances. There are other laws that apply that would give the spouses tax benefits that others do not share. These rights can also include the right to inherit assets belonging to the other spouse and the list goes on.

The only way to terminate this legal relationship, this legal contract, is by going through a divorce process in a court of law. Which is known officially as the “Dissolution of Marriage”.

This process officially begins with the filing of a petition with a local county court here in Florida requesting the termination of the marriage through a final judgment that only a judge can sign off on.

In summary, the process will also involve the exchange of financial information between the spouses. Each spouse will complete a financial form providing basic financial information. Such as their respective incomes, assets, expenses, debts, etcetera.

As we review the finances, we determine which assets are marital, which will then be subject to division between the spouses in a divorce; and those assets that’ll be considered non-marital, which are assets that will remain separate.

If there are minor children from the marriage, the parties will also negotiate the issues relating to the children. Such as parental responsibility, time sharing, and child support.

Finally, we will review any other issues that may be applicable in your case. Such as the spouses’ eligibility for alimony, or the recovery of attorney’s fees, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Hopefully, the parties will be able to reach some type of settlement agreement, either by directly negotiating with one another or going through a mediation.

In a mediation, the parties will actually sit down with an independent third party known as a mediator, who can then review the specifics of the case and try to reach an agreement.

If an agreement is reached through these negotiation efforts, then we will document everything carefully in a ‘Marital Settlement Agreement’. Which will be presented to the judge and the judge will then enter a final judgment based on that agreement. That would finalize your divorce once and for all.

Most cases are actually resolved in this way.

On the other hand, if the parties are not able to reach an agreement, then we would have to go to a trial where the judge will make the decision relating to all of the issues I just discussed.

The judge will then enter a final judgment that would finalize the divorce based on his or her findings.

I hope this short video provided you with at least some guidance regarding the legal divorce process here in Florida.

Thank you again for joining me today. And as always, stay informed so you can stay strong.

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