The Difference Between Separation and Divorce

When some married couples are having problems, they might want to spend some time apart. There are many different reasons why couples in this situation might not be ready to completely end their marriage, so they do not file for divorce. Some reasons include the hope of possible reconciliation, health insurance and other benefits, religious reasons, and more.

Most states allow spouses to obtain a legal separation, though Florida is one of the six states that does not legally recognize separation. Instead, spouses might choose to file for a limited divorce, which is different from a full divorce.

Limited Divorce vs. Full Divorce

There is one major difference between a limited divorce and a full divorce – a full divorce legally dissolves your marriage and a limited divorce does not. Even if you receive an order for a limited divorce, you are still legally married. This means you can still do the following, among other things:

  • Qualify for health benefits under a spouse’s employer-based policies
  • Inherit under a spouse’s will
  • File taxes or bankruptcy as a married couple
  • Have access to a spouse in a healthcare setting

In addition, if you have a limited divorce, you may not get married to anyone else. If you tried to marry another person, not only would the marriage be invalid and void, but you could also face felony charges for bigamy under Florida law. If remarriage is a priority for you in the near future, a limited divorce would not be appropriate.

Why Seek a Limited Divorce?

If a limited divorce does not end your marriage, why would you take the time to seek one from the court? When you decide to live in separate residences, there are still issues you need to work out, even if you are still married. Primarily, you need to decide how you will split time and responsibilities when it comes to your children.

As part of a limited divorce, the court can issue a custody order dictating how you and your spouse will share time with your children. The limited divorce order can also include support orders if needed. This can help you and your spouse manage the separation in a more structured way, which can be better for you and your children.

If you decide to seek a full divorce, you can incorporate the terms of your limited divorce into that order or come up with new terms. If you decide to get back together, you can simply withdraw the limited divorce order and proceed with your married life.

Contact a Tampa Family Law Attorney for More Information

The Law Office of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., helps clients explore their options when it comes to separation and divorce. We can evaluate your situation and represent you throughout the legal process. Call 813-227-9642 or contact us online to speak with a divorce lawyer in Tampa today.