Moran & Associates Family Law

Legal Separation vs Divorce

Separation is an alternative to divorce. If you are married but no longer wish to live together with your spouse, many Colorado Springs divorce attorneys may recommend you consider a legal separation vs divorce. A legal separation will allow you to remain legally married while living apart from your spouse.  Colorado recognizes the validity of both legal separation and divorce.

What Are The Requirements For A Legal Separation In Colorado?

To obtain a legal separation in Colorado, you must have been a resident of the state for 90 days before filing your petition, and you and your spouse must have lived separate and apart in different residences for at least six months before filing.

A legal separation is only available in the state of Colorado if both you and your spouse are currently residents of the state or intend to become residents before filing for a legal separation decree.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

The court will not issue a legal separation if either spouse indicates that they intend to leave the state of Colorado following filing for a legal separation decree. In addition, the court will not issue a legal separation in any jurisdiction where recognizing such a decree would violate the public policy of another jurisdiction.

When considering legal separation vs divorce, note that Colorado does not require separation agreements. But spouses are advised to spell out both their rights and obligations towards each other during the process. If you wish to keep your separation agreement confidential, you can file it in district court under seal.

During a legal separation, either spouse may file a petition requesting spousal maintenance if their financial situation has changed since the marriage date. An experienced family attorney can advise you whether alimony in Colorado is appropriate in your case.

The form and content of a legal separation petition is nearly identical to the process used in divorce proceedings. The primary difference in the two proceedings is that a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage but only severs the relationship between you and your spouse while preserving the status of your marriage.

How Long Does A Legal Separation Take?

An uncontested legal separation could proceed for filing within 30 days of service on the other spouse if no children were born to or adopted by both spouses before the separation.

If children were born to or adopted by both spouses before the separation, an uncontested legal separation could proceed for filing within 60 days of service on the other spouse. If a separation agreement does not address child custody, support, or property issues, one may apply to these matters within 90 days of filing for legal separation.

Colorado law requires a child custody evaluation before reaching final agreements regarding child custody issues to ensure that any proposed agreement regarding child custody and visitation is in the best interests of any minor children.

LEGAL SEPARATION vs DIVORCE FAQ'S

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Child Custody

A legal separation decree does not establish child custody between the spouses or govern their child custody rights or visitation. Instead, only a court order concerning child custody will have this effect after being entered by a judge.

By understanding the differences between a legal separation and divorce, you will be better prepared to make informed decisions about your relationship concerns in your best interests and any children that may come into the picture.

For more information about how you can protect your rights concerning child custody issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a divorce attorney today.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Child Support

During a legal separation, each spouse remains legally married, and neither is permitted to marry another person. Both spouses are required to furnish support for themselves to ensure that the other spouse can pay his or her way.

The court will determine how much each spouse is required to contribute toward potential support during a legal separation before a settlement agreement between you and your spouse is complete.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Child Custody Evaluation

The court will address all child custody issues in a divorce proceeding. In a legal separation, child custody issues are negotiated and agreed to by both spouses. Each parent has equal authority and responsibility for any minor children they may share.

During a divorce, one or more court-appointed professionals will interview and assess the parents and their families and the children to determine any potential parenting issues that may arise.

While the court ultimately determines child custody, one or both parents can be granted sole legal and physical custody of a minor child. Without a legal separation decree, this process cannot take place.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Visitation Rights

The court settles visitation rights during a divorce proceeding. In a separation, both spouses negotiate and agree upon child visitation rights.

During a legal separation, each parent has equal authority and responsibility for providing parenting time to any minor children that they may share. A valid separation agreement includes both parents agreeing on any plan or schedule that might affect their children. If they cannot agree on visitation, the court will determine any potential parenting issues that may arise.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Marital Property

Spouses become legally separated when they file for a legal separation decree with the court. Each spouse remains legally married, and neither is permitted to marry another person. All marital property you own remains owned by both of you until you decide to sell or otherwise transfer ownership of the same.

After a divorce is final, courts divide and distribute all marital property through its equitable division process on an individual basis for each spouse. Some items may remain with one spouse, while others may go to the other.

The equitable distribution process means that all property is initially valued before anything is distributed to either spouse regardless of how disparate its value might be.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Spousal Maintenance

The court settles spousal maintenance issues during a divorce proceeding. During a legal separation, these issues are negotiated and agreed to by both spouses directly. In addition, each parent has equal authority and responsibility for providing potential support to any minor children that they may share during these negotiations.