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Advantages For Same Sex Couples in Filing For Separate Maintenance Before A Divorce


In Florida, there is no such thing as a legal separation. However, filing a petition for separate maintenance can often achieve some of the same results, in terms of property division and matters impacting children. Rather than filing for divorce, having to meet state divorce requirements, and permanently dissolving your marriage, a separation agreement can grant each of the parties individual rights, while they continue to receive the benefits of being married.

Resolving Issues Through A Separate Maintenance Agreement

Guidelines and requirements for filing a Petition For Separate Maintenance And Support Unconnected With The Dissolution Of Marriage are found under Florida divorce laws. To seek this type of action, you must be legally married, with no current divorce paperwork filed, living in a state of separation from your spouse. This implies living separate and apart from one another and refraining from all marital relations.

While you must be a resident of Florida for at least six months before filing for a divorce in the state, Section 61.09 of the Florida Statutes lists no residency time limit requirements for filing for separate maintenance. Issues that can be resolved in these agreements include:

  • Equitable division of marital property, assets, debts: This may include determining which spouse remains in the marital home, how financial accounts are divided, and who is responsible for making payments on debts accumulated through the marriage;
  • Spousal support and maintenance: If one of the spouses quit their job or neglected their career or educational goals in support of the marriage or to provide for any children, they may be entitled to spousal support, either in the form of monthly payments or in one lump sum settlement.
  • Child custody issues: Based on parenting plans and financial worksheets submitted by the couple, temporary time sharing arrangements may be made, which include physical custody of the child as well as legal custody in making decisions on their behalf. Child support payments may be included in these agreements as well.

Cases involving separate maintenance may be uncontested, in which both parties agreement to the terms, or contested, in which a judge will rule on the matter based on the evidence presented by both sides and their attorneys.

Benefits of Filing For Separate Maintenance 

Filing for separate maintenance and support rather than initiating divorce proceedings can benefit same sex couples in allowing them to retain the following benefits, many of which LGBT couples have only recently obtained in having been granted the right to marry:

  • Allows you to retain coverage through your spouse’s health insurance policy;
  • Allows you to continue to receive veterans and military benefits;
  • Allows you to receive Social Security benefits, as well as providing additional time to meet social security time limit requirements;
  • Enables you to retain rights of inheritance from your spouse’s estate;
  • Protects you from being held liable from tax debts your spouse is responsible for.

To discuss whether filing for separate maintenance may be the best option in your situation, call or contact Hancock & Associates, P.A. online today to schedule a free consultation with our Florida family law attorney in our Orlando or Tampa office.


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