Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Colorado

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Colorado

A legal separation does not have the same legal effect as a divorce. Divorce is a dissolution of the marriage relationship that permits both parties to enter into new marriage relationships with other partners. If the parties do not see any possibility of reconciliation, then a divorce may be the best option as it severs the legal connection between the parties.

Parties may choose to pursue a legal separation to retain retirement benefits or military benefits that only remain available to both parties if they are legally married. There might be moral or religious beliefs that prevent spouses from seeking a divorce, so they instead seek a legal separation. Some spouses want to test the waters to see if a divorce is right for them.

Legal separation does not permit the parties to remarry unless the legal separation proceeding is converted to a divorce. A legal separation does not sever the legal rights and duties shared between the parties, and both parties remain legally married at the end of the legal separation proceedings.

The parental responsibilities are allocated when the parties initiate legal separation proceedings. Child support and maintenance are calculated and awarded. Marital assets and debts are divided between the parties. If you want to learn more about your separation options, contact an Aurora divorce attorney today.



The Characteristics of Legal Separation

If parties want to separate before deciding to file for divorce or possibly reconcile, then legal separation may offer them more benefits.
Parties who choose to petition the court for legal separation are able to retain their insurance benefits and tax benefits while living apart from each other. Both parties remain married after a decree of legal separation is entered by the court. This is the only major difference between a divorce and a legal separation in the state of Colorado. One party may want a divorce decree entered after the decree of legal separation is entered. If this is the case, then they can file a motion, and the court will enter a decree of dissolution of marriage.

A marriage remains valid after parties petition the court for a legal separation. The parties cannot form a new marriage relationship with another person before obtaining a decree of dissolution of marriage.

Retaining an Aurora divorce attorney can help you determine if you want to proceed with procedures related to a legal separation or a divorce. CNL Law Firm, PLLC in Aurora, Colorado, can help you determine whether you should pursue a legal separation or a divorce.

The Characteristics of Divorce

Under Colorado law, a decree of dissolution of marriage or a decree dissolving a marriage are the legal phrases for a divorce. A divorce completely severs the legal relationship between the parties. The parties must assign debts, pay spousal support if necessary, and divide both real and personal property.

If the parties have children, then the parties must solve all parenting issues and determine how much child support a specific party will pay. Tax returns need to be separately filed unless the parties remarry.

Differences Between Divorce and Legal Separation in Colorado

Here are a few of the differences between dissolving a marriage and separating legally under Colorado family laws:

  1. If divorced, couples can remarry. If legally separated, they may not.
  2. Divorced couples do not automatically inherit their intestate spouse’s estate in the event of their death, whereas intestate legally separated couples will automatically inherit the other person’s estate. Intestate means when someone dies without having made a will.
  3. If divorced, couples can no longer claim “married” tax benefits while legally separated couples can.
  4. Only one person needs to want a divorce in order to get divorced, but with legal separation, couples must mutually agree to it.
  5. Divorced couples can not continue to use their X’s insurance. Legally separated couples can (in the majority of cases—some companies are cracking down on this).
  6. If divorced, either one on active military duty may not get “married” pay, which is higher than “single” pay. Sometimes couples will agree to get legally separated and then share the additional pay.
  7. Divorced people are free to date without restriction. If you are legally separated, your church or culture may not approve of you dating, although it won’t get you into legal trouble.
  8. Divorce is permanent once it has been granted. The couple can decide to get married again, but the original marriage can never be returned to. A legal separation can be ended with a “Motion to Vacate” at any point, and then the couple returns to their original marriage without needing to remarry if they reconcile.

How to Convert a Legal Separation to a Divorce

In Colorado, you do not need to start from zero if you decide to get divorced after getting a legal separation. Your lawyer files the right paperwork and the court can decree the marriage to be legally dissolved. You can not convert your separation to divorce until you’ve been separated for at least half a year.

Call an Aurora Divorce Attorney for a Consultation

An experienced Aurora divorce attorney can help you assess all the legal options available to you as you examine your family law case. Reach out to CNL Law Firm, PLLC, to learn more about our legal services. You can speak with an Aurora divorce attorney today at (720) 370-2171 or by contacting us online.

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