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Annulment, Divorce, and Legal Separation In Florida: What is the Difference?

Tampa, Florida divorce, annulment & family law attorneys

If you are a Florida resident and are thinking about ending your marriage, it is important to know that there are many different ways to do it. While some people do choose to get a divorce, a legal separation or annulment is a more appropriate option for others. Below, one of our Tampa divorce attorneys explains more.

Understanding Divorce 

The only way to formally and legally dissolve a marriage is to get a divorce. Generally speaking, any time a couple is married and wants to end their marriage, they can get a divorce. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means any spouse can file for divorce by simply stating in their petition for dissolution of marriage that the marital relationship is irretrievably broken and that there is no chance of reconciliation.

The person who files the paperwork does not have to prove that their spouse is to blame for the end of the marriage or that it is irretrievably broken. Both spouses also do not have to agree to a no-fault divorce.

In the Sunshine State, getting a divorce is a relatively straightforward process, if the parties can agree. Still, it can involve many complicated issues. Child custody and support, property division, and alimony are just a few of these. The majority of divorce cases are settled out of court either through mediation or between the parties and their lawyers; however, there are a small percentage that go to trial.

If the couple cannot reach an agreement and have to go to trial, a judge will make all of the final decisions and the parties may not like the result.  The parties may also reduce what is necessary for the judge to decide by having a partial agreement.

Understanding Annulment 

Unlike a divorce, annulment does not officially dissolve a marriage. Instead, it declares the marriage as null and void and essentially makes it as though the union never existed. There are very few reasons a couple can choose annulment over divorce and they must meet certain requirements. When annulling a marriage, a person must prove one of the following:

  • Underage spouses
  • Bigamy
  • Incest
  • Lack of, or inability to, consent to the marriage
  • Impotence
  • Duress, fraud, or misrepresentation

If one of the above cannot be proven, then the parties must file for divorce.

Understanding Legal Separation

 Florida is one of a handful of states that do not recognize legal separation. Legal separation refers to when a couple lives separate and apart and do not have marital relations, but they are still legally married. Living separate and apart does not mean a couple is legally separated in Florida, nor does it provide grounds for divorce.

It is important though if you are permanently separating, that you have a line of demarcation between what is marital and what is not marital.  For instance, in a marriage usually the debts incurred by one of the parties is considered a marital debt whether the other spouse’s name is on it or not.  You do not want to be responsible for half the debts your spouse is making after you have separated.

Still, if a Florida couple wishes to remain married, but they do not want to live as a married couple, one of the parties can file a petition for support for themselves or support for their children and a parenting plan without divorce.

Also, entering into a postnuptial agreement giving a date of permanent separation may be a good option. In a postnuptial agreement, a couple can agree to different terms such as alimony and property division, as well as any children issues. This is often a good option for couples who do not want to divorce for personal, practical, or religious reasons.

Our Tampa Divorce Attorneys Can Advise On Your Case 

If you are thinking about ending your marriage and want to know more about your options, our Tampa divorce attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A., are here to help. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to request a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.  Se habla Español.



All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group, P.A. provides legal services to the Florida cities including Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Hyde Park, South Tampa, Ybor City, Northdale, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Northdale, Westchase, Citrus Park, Town N Country, Thonotosassa, Lutz, Fish Hawk, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, MacDill Air Force Base and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. We will also represent DIVORCE clients in Polk, Hernando or Manatee Counties.

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