If you and your spouse no longer wish to live together as husband and wife, it is wise to resolve the rights and responsibilities of marriage. These rights and responsibilities can include, division of assets and debts, parenting time, child support and spousal maintenance to name a few. In Colorado, couples can file for dissolution of marriage, more commonly known as divorce, OR legal separation.
Legal Separation Versus Dissolution of Marriage
A separation is not technically a divorce. However, obtaining a decree of separation requires couples to address exactly the same issues that are addressed in a divorce. Because of this, a decree of legal separation turns both parties into single people, legally speaking. A separation will also allow for both parties to be financially independent, excluding financial responsibilities outlined in the separation decree.
A separation can be a great option if you have a specific reason not to divorce. Most commonly, those getting a legal separation have religious reasons to avoid divorce. Separation can also be a great option if you are having a difficult time with the concept of divorce, but need to be separated from your spouse.
Distinct Characteristics of Separation
As mentioned above, a separation is very similar to divorce, especially when it comes to the issues that need to be addressed. So what makes a separation different?
- The parties may not remarry while they are legally separated
- Sometimes (but rarely) a party may remain on the other’s insurance policy (be sure to check with the particular insurance policy to confirm)
- Couples may live apart, with legally separate financial obligations, without being “divorced”
- If one party wishes to dissolve the marriage, the agreement or order contained in the legal separation decree is entirely enforceable in the decree of dissolution of marriage
- Unless otherwise excluded, both parties may retain their inheritance rights from the other spouse.
Converting a Separation to Divorce
Though there are some distinctions between legal separation and dissolution of marriage, either party may seek conversion of the decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution of marriage after six months have passed from the entry of the decree of legal separation.
Converting a separation into a divorce requires legal notice to the other party, informing them of the intent to convert the separation to a divorce. Granting the conversion to a decree of dissolution of marriage is automatic, and formally restores a spouse’s prior name (if requested) and changes the status of the spouses’ legal relationship.
Contact Divorce Matters for Help!
If you have any questions about separation or why it could be a good option for you, please give us a call at (720) 386-9176 or contact us here!