Category Archives: Alimony

Yes, Virginia, there is Legal Separation in Florida

It goes by a couple of weird names (like “legally separate maintenance” or “support unconnected with dissolution”), but Legal Separation does exist in Florida.  I get so mad because I hear all the time, not only from clients but from other lawyers, about how Florida doesn’t have legal separation.  I was even at a family law Continuing Legal Education seminar a couple of months ago where a lawyer proudly pronounced that she had developed some techniques for obtaining alimony and child support in Florida where, “as we all know, there is no legal separation.”  It’s just not true.

I do have to admit that filing for legal separation is rare.  For one thing, if one spouse files for separation (which is basically saying, “I don’t want to divorce you, but I want you to pay me alimony and/or child support”), that other spouse normally just counterclaims for divorce.

But there are good reasons for filing legal separation as opposed to divorce.  The obvious one is that one spouse may want to move out, yet still take time to work on the marriage.  If the moving spouse can’t afford to live on his or her own while the couple attends counseling (or does whatever they need to do to work on the marriage), the court can set up temporary alimony or support for the interim.

And there are legal reason not to divorce, too, like collecting a spouse’s social security credits or remaining on a spouse’s health insurance.

The other upside to separation as opposed to divorce is that filing separation has no residency requirement in Florida.  Remember, you have to be a Florida resident for six months before you can file divorce here.  But you can move to Florida and file for legal separation the next day.   That way, you could start collecting alimony or child support and convert your legal separation case to a divorce case after you’ve lived in Florida for six months.

So not only does legal separation exist in Florida, it’s downright useful in a lot of circumstances.  Give us a call or send an email if you want to know more.

Move to Florida and Pay Alimony

I recently had a discussion with a mediator of many years’ experience, and he told me that many large companies don’t see Florida as a business friendly state due to the fact that spouses can get permanent alimony. That’s right; there are other states where spouses in long term marriage can no longer get alimony. He claims that large companies don’t want to relocate here because they may potentially subject their management and workforce to paying alimony.  So I got curious and googled “States that have abolished alimony” and found a veritable plethora of websites devoted to ending lifetime alimony. There is even one in Florida (www.Floridaalimonyreform.com).  Not surprisingly, there is a bill pending in the Florida Legislature to abolish Permanent Alimony. It will be interesting to see if it passes and what it does to current cases where former spouses are paying.

The argument for ending lifetime alimony is that it legalizes lifetime servitude and also treats women as if they are the weaker sex and not as employable as men. There is talk of expanding unequal distribution to compensate for the elimination of some forms of alimony.

If you are seeking divorce and alimony with a long term marriage, you may want to contact us and file quickly. If you are already divorced and are paying alimony, you should contact us as well.