Getting a divorce in Orlando, Florida, is always an emotional process. There are many considerations to be made, including your date of separation.
Florida does not recognize legal separations like other states. Nevertheless, the date of your separation will play an important role in your divorce. Speak with a trusted Orlando divorce lawyer to get support and guidance on your next steps.
Date of Separation and Why it Matters
Separating from your spouse could mean many things. Is it the day you decided to separate? The day you moved out? The day your marriage started having problems?
Ultimately, Florida courts have settled on a specific definition of separation. It’s when you and your spouse have lived as single individuals. In other words, you began acting in a way that showed your desire to end the marriage.
This date is vital to your divorce because it draws a line for the division of property. Anything acquired prior to this date—but after your wedding day—is considered marital property. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution in Florida.
Any property acquired after the date of separation would be separate property and not subject to equitable distribution unless other conditions are met. So if you buy a new car after the date of separation, unless you used marital funds to purchase that car, it would be your separate, non-marital property. No court in Florida would require you to split that car with your spouse even if it was purchased before your final divorce decree was issued.
The date of separation also applies to your income, retirement contributions, and any other assets you acquire. Retirement accounts are a great example of why the date of separation is crucial. If you were married on July 1, 2000, and your date of separation is July 1, 2022, then your spouse is only entitled to the 20 years of contributions made to your retirement account, even if your divorce isn’t finalized until next year.
Proving the Date of Separation
To prove your date of separation in Florida, you’ll need to show that at least one of you had the intent to end the marriage. How do you show intent? There are countless ways to do so, but you cannot simply claim you had the intent to end your marriage without taking some action.
For example, if you have thought long and hard about whether to get a divorce, and you’ve had many discussions with a close friend, they may be able to support your claim of a certain date. You may have told them you had made up your mind and that you were going to file divorce paperwork the following day. You may even have some of these conversations in text or email form.
The best evidence of your intent, however, could be your physical separation from your spouse. This doesn’t necessarily mean moving out of the house, either. You could simply move into another bedroom, an apartment above your garage, or even start sleeping on the couch. If you can show that you have physically separated from your spouse, even while living in the same house, that may be enough to qualify as your date of separation, though moving to a different address will be even more beneficial.
Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in Orlando, FL
If you’re getting a divorce and need to determine your date of separation, an Orlando divorce lawyer can help. Navigating the complexities of what makes for separation can be confusing and overwhelming.