You feel like your marriage is over, but you can't or don’t want to get a divorce.
Maybe you need your partner’s health insurance. Or religious reasons prevent you from seeking a divorce. Perhaps you need to maintain pension or social security benefits that you’d lose if you and your spouse divorce. Or maybe you're not sure divorce is the right answer, and you want to try a trial separation.
In many states, people who want to separate from their spouse while maintaining the benefits of being married can seek a ‘legal separation.’ That’s when a couple separates, but holds on to some of the financial benefits of being married.
While Florida law does not formally recognize legal separation, a legal separation agreement can be beneficial first step. However, Florida statutes do allow Floridians who want to separate without formally divorcing to seek a limited, or bifurcateddivorce.Limited or bifurcated divorce allows a married couple to legally end their marriage, without the complete separation that comes from an absolute divorce.
Some couples see a limited divorce as a first step. They may use it to establish some distance, when there is still hope for reconciliation. In other cases, both spouses know they want to separate, but they can’t afford to or don’t want a full divorce.
Bifurcated divorce in Florida allows a couple to legally separate while retaining many of the benefits of being married. In proceedings for a limited/bifurcated divorce, the court can resolve property disputes, address child custody, visitation, and child support issues, and order alimony payments. The main difference between limited divorce and full divorce is that in a limited divorce, the couple lives separately but remains married, so neither spouse can marry someone else.
There are many reasons a married couple may not want an absolute divorce. They may have religious objections, or need to preserve financial benefits that are only available to married couples, like a family health plan, pension benefits, or social security benefits. Another reason for limited or bifurcated divorce may be a trial separation with the hope of reconciliation.
When it comes to divorce, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that either spouse can file for divorce without proving a reason for the divorce, other than that one or both of the parties no longer wish to be married. The same is true in cases of limited divorce. If you choose to seek a limited divorce, you can choose one of three reasons: cruelty, desertion, or voluntary separation.
Contrary to popular belief, a bifurcated divorce is not necessarily the first step towards a full or absolute divorce. In practice, couples may use limited divorce as a first step. Sometimes, after a period of separation, a couple will realize they want to reunite. Other times, one or both spouses meet someone new and decide they need to proceed to an absolute divorce.
When filing for divorce, you may know from the beginning that you want to seek an absolute divorce. Or you may first try a limited or bifurcated divorce, then move to an absolute divorce later. During your confidential meeting with my team of experienced Florida divorce professionals, we'll help you assess which option might be best for you.
If you have questions about limited or bifurcated divorce in Florida, contact The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher. Based in Leesburg, Florida, The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher proudly represents people throughout central-Florida, and frequently provides legal assistance to people who live in "The Villages."
To talk to a member of our team or to schedule a free 30 minute consultation, call 352-241-0391, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.