This is the next article in my series on the possibility of obtaining a legal separation. My last article discussed the fact that Florida does not recognize the legal doctrine of legal separation. Spouses can, however, gain certain financial protections through the use of a postnuptial agreement. This can be an important step in protecting one’s assets, wages, and avoiding another’s incurred debt. There are, however, limitations to a postnuptial agreement. One of those limitations is the fact that such an arrangement cannot provide for child custody or support. This is why I will be using this article to discuss why parents in Melbourne and other areas of our state may wish to file for a divorce. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Parents who are going their separate ways cannot obtain a child custody order from the Court without filing for divorce. Also, parents cannot dictate future custody or support provisions in a postnuptial agreement as the law does not allow them to do so (for reasons which are beyond the scope of this article). This means that if married parents are living apart then there is nothing they can do to enforce visitation schedules, support payments, etc. This can lead to a variety of problems which can include one parent not helping with expenses, the child not being returned at agreed upon times, etc. While some parents may wish to live apart from their spouse, and that a postnuptial agreement can protect financial protections, the only way to ensure your custody situation is to obtain a divorce.
The Court will issue a child custody order as part of a final divorce decree. This order will include provisions for which parent will have custody, which parent will pay support (and the amount), which parent will provide medical insurance, and how holidays will be divided. Important is the fact that such an order is enforceable. This means, for example, that if a parent refuses to return the child at a designated time then, depending on the circumstances, that parent may be held in contempt of court. Also, if a parent does not pay their child support then they may be held in contempt and may even be placed in jail. The fact that Florida does not recognize the concept of legal separation, unfortunately, leaves divorce as the only avenue through which parents can obtain such legal protections.
If you are considering separating from your spouse then it is important that you seek the advice of an attorney to gain a full understanding of your situation. Counsel will help you to understand why your goals may be satisfied through a postnuptial agreement or whether you should file for divorce. As a Melbourne family law lawyer, I am familiar with handling such matters. I strive to provide quality service and I look forward to speaking with you. Contact my office today. I also serve the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.