If you peruse websites such as TMZ or let your eyes wander the gossip rags in the checkout line at the store, you are familiar with stories of married couples filing for legal separation on the way to an eventual divorce. If it seems like legal separation is just a formality on the way to a divorce settlement, that’s because in almost all cases it is exactly that.

A recent article on Psychology Today sheds light on why that is the case, saying “separations are usually not the beginning but the end of a long process”. In the article (“Why Separations Usually Lead To Divorce”), a clinical psychologist who focuses on families provides an example from his practice. His patient notified her spouse that she needed a separation to figure things out only to be divorced within a year. The psychologist notes that at some level she had already decided to leave the relationship by the time she came forward to request a separation. In other words, she had already “made a heavy investment in her decision” and it was unlikely that she was going to change her mind as a result of her spouse’s actions during the separation.

With an 80% of separations leading to divorce, it can be argued that Florida’s laws represent what actually happens in the vast majority of cases. There is no such thing as a formal legal separation in Florida. While some states have the option of a legal separation and other states mandate a separation period, couples in Florida can legally go straight from married to divorced as quickly as an agreement can be reached and signed off on.

However, the lack of a formal legal separation in Florida does not mean couples cannot enter a period of separation if they wish. In the event of an informal separation, it is important to make sure issues such as child support are addressed via a voluntary agreement, postnuptial agreement, or a court order. If your spouse has left or you are considering separation, it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney.