Not all states allow for legal separations, however, Colorado is one of the states that does allow couples to become legally separated. If you’re trying to decide between a legal separation and a divorce, it will be important to understand the differences between the two court actions, especially since they are alike in many ways.
Marriage is viewed as a legal contract between spouses and the only way for a married couple to terminate the agreement is to divorce. To file for divorce, one of the spouses files a petition for dissolution of marriage. Before a couple can obtain a divorce, the spouses or the court has to make decisions about child custody, child support, spousal support, property, and debt division. Once the divorce is finalized, both spouses are free to remarry if they so choose.
Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Colorado
Legal separation and divorce are very similar in their functions, however, the primary difference between the two is a divorce terminates the marriage contract and the spouses can marry someone else. In contrast, when a married couple legally separates, they cannot remarry because technically, they are still married to their spouse.
“Why would a couple choose to legally separate over a divorce?” is a question that some people ask. While people legally separate for different reasons, the most common reasons for legally separation include:
- The couple has religious objections to divorce.
- One spouse is disabled or ill and needs their spouse’s health insurance.
- The couple needs time to figure out if they want a divorce or to get back together.
- The couple wants to split up on trial bases because they feel a divorce is too permanent of a solution.
- The couple wants to preserve military or employment benefits.
- The spouses want to utilize the federal tax benefit for married couples.
If you are interested in a legal separation, the process is the same in Colorado as it is for divorce. First, one of you will have to file a petition for a legal separation with the local court. At the minimum, one of you will have to meet Colorado’s residency requirement, which is at least 91 days before the legal separation is filed. Further, it will take at least 90 days before the court will take action on your case.
When couples opt for legal separation over a divorce, it’s not uncommon for them to enter new romantic relationships and eventually, one of the spouses converts the legal separation to divorce when they want to remarry. However, neither spouse can ask for this conversion until the separation has been ordered by a judge for at least six months.
To learn more about legal separations in Colorado, contact Kaplan Law L.L.C. today.