How does a legal separation work?

Like several other states, Colorado has a process called legal separation. Basically, a couple in the Denver area may choose to use a legal separation in a case where they wish to remain legally married but live apart.

Couples may choose this option for a number of reasons. For instance, some people may have moral or religious objections to divorce. In other cases, people may just not be ready, or may not feel their children are emotionally ready, to go through a full-fledged divorce.

In still other cases, there may be some financial advantages to staying legally married, even if the couple in practice are living separate lives.

Most practical aspects of legal separation are similar to those of divorce

Perhaps the most obvious differences between a legal separation and a divorce is that, in the case of a legal separation, the spouses will remain legally married.

What this means in practice is that the spouses are not free to re-marry; the legal separation may have other legal implications as well.

However, a legal separation in practice works very much the same as does a divorce. A Colorado judge will divide the couple’s property in a fair and equitable manner.

The judge will also make decisions about child custody, parenting time and support and may award spousal maintenance. As is the case with a divorce, sometimes these decisions are both complicated and contentious.

People going through a legal separation should not make the mistake of thinking they can do it on their own without professional legal help since they will legally remain married.

There are some important practical differences with a legal separation

Those going through a legal separation should also be aware that there are some important differences between separation and divorce. One example is that after a legal separation, a person will have to wait about six months before converting the separation to divorce.

On the flip side, if one spouse wants a divorce and the other has asked for a legal separation, the spouse wanting a divorce can object to legal separation and seek a divorce instead.

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