There are two types of divorce in Florida: absolute and limited. Absolute divorce is a traditional divorce and permanently ends a marriage. Limited divorce, which is far less common, is akin to legal separation and does not legally end a marriage. A couple may desire a limited divorce because of religious or personal reasons. Limited divorce allows a couple to avoid absolute divorce, but the court still legally resolves some issues involved in divorce, such as spousal maintenance, child custody, and property division. If you are seeking a divorce in Florida, you should call a family law attorney to discuss your options.Limited Divorce
A limited divorce is not a permanent divorce, but rather a way to give legal effect to a couple’s separation. Remarriage is not permitted after a limited divorce because the couple is still legally married. If the spouses want to marry other people, they may seek an absolute divorce after the limited divorce. However, a limited divorce is not a prerequisite for obtaining an absolute divorce.Property
Unlike an absolute divorce, a limited divorce does not terminate any property claims that one spouse may have against the other. This means that the spouses may still seek ownership of the couple’s assets after a limited divorce has been entered. However, the court may divide the couple’s assets and debts in a limited divorce.Spousal Maintenance
Since a limited divorce formalizes a couple’s separate living arrangement, it may result in one spouse’s economic disadvantage. To ameliorate this problem, Florida courts may provide for spousal support in a limited divorce.Children
If a couple seeking a limited divorce have minor children, the court can establish a primary residence for the children, and may also establish visitation for the noncustodial parent. The court may also order child support payments to be made by the noncustodial parent.Grounds
The grounds for a limited divorce in Florida are:
- Cruelty or excessively vicious conduct to the spouse or to a minor child;
- Desertion; or
- Voluntary separation beyond any expectation of reconciliation.
In order to obtain a limited divorce in Florida, one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing the petition for divorce.Duration
A limited divorce in Florida may be permanent or only temporary. If at any time the parties jointly petition the court, the court may revoke the limited divorce. This means that the spouses return to their full marital status.
If the spouses later seek an absolute divorce, the court may then revisit the issues of the limited divorce. It can issue new orders regarding spousal maintenance, child support and custody, property division, and any other issues addressed in the limited divorce.
Divorce laws in Florida can be complex. If you are considering a divorce or separation from your spouse, an experienced attorney can help you understand the legal and practical effects of such a decision. Please contact the dedicated West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein to schedule a free initial consultation.