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Florida law permits people who are not residents of the state to petition for either child support or alimony (or both) from their spouse without seeking a divorce. Some refer to this as Florida’s “separation” law. However, that is not entirely correct. Florida does not legally recognize separation. Therefore, the court cannot declare the parties to be “separated,” and it cannot legally divide the parties’ assets and debts. The court can only award child support and/or alimony and, if there are children, the court may enter a parenting plan so that the parties have a time-sharing schedule, if they wish. All other laws that apply to married couples will continue to apply.

Petitioning for Support

To petition for support, the petitioning party must reside in Florida, although there is no specific amount of time required like there is for dissolution of marriage (i.e., the petitioning party must reside in Florida for at least six months to file for divorce). The petitioning party must have a need for support, and the other party must have the ability to provide support and fail to do so. If the court finds these elements have been proven, then alimony and/or child support will be calculated using the parties’ respective net incomes and other relevant factors.

Requesting support unconnected with dissolution of marriage does not prohibit either party from filing for divorce later on. However, all requirements to file for divorce must be met if and when a party does file for divorce.

Many people choose to file this type of action, instead of a divorce, for different reasons. Sometimes, a spouse will find themselves alone in Florida during a “break” in the marriage, but they haven’t met Florida’s residency requirement yet, and they have no financial means to support themselves and/or their children. Other times, the parties want to leave the possibility of reconciliation open, but also want to have their financial arrangements sorted out in the meantime. Strategic Family Attorney, P.A., is prepared to discuss your options and to assist you with seeking support if this type of action is right for you. Contact us for a consultation.

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