Denver Attorneys Helping Couples With Legal Separation
Physical separation and legal separation are two entirely different things. Some Colorado married couples would prefer to get a legal separation rather than a divorce. With a legal separation, in some situations, one spouse can continue to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance policy. Others choose this status for religious reasons. Whatever the motivation, a legal separation usually means that there is a possibility of reconciliation, even if that possibility is small. However, many would be surprised to learn that the process of legal separation is not easier than divorce. Some key differences are that you end up with a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage, and you cannot marry someone else until you get divorced. Our Denver legal separation attorneys at Plog & Stein, P.C. can help you explore this alternative solution and guide you through the process should you choose to pursue it.
Procedures in Seeking a Legal Separation
The process of separation is procedurally similar to dissolution. Like divorce, legal separation starts with the filing of a petition notifying the court and the other spouse. As with divorce, either you or your spouse or both of you must have lived in Colorado for the 91 days preceding the commencement of legal separation. You can file your petition in the county of residence for both of you, or the other party if you live in different counties.
The petition specifies what you want the court to order with regard to issues such as:
- Property division
- Parental time
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Health insurance
Before filing the petition, some couples choose to enter into a written legal separation agreement under Colorado Revised Statutes section 14-10-112, which includes provisions for all the same issues that would need resolution in a divorce. Other than provisions related to allocation of parental responsibilities, support, and parenting time, these provisions are binding upon the court in a petition either for divorce or legal separation.
The court can, however, find the separation agreement unconscionable after examining the parties’ economic circumstances or other relevant evidence. If the court makes a finding that the agreement is unconscionable, it can request the parties to submit a revision or make other orders. Generally, if both parties are represented by their own attorneys and agree, the court is less likely to find a negotiated separation agreement unconscionable.
Once orders are entered in your legal separation matter, whether via a separation agreement or a court order, they are binding on the parties as to the division or allocation of assets, support, etc. Given that the issues in the legal separation action are the same as in a divorce, it’s not uncommon for parties to start a case as a legal separation action, only to have it converted to a divorce case mid-stream.
What Happens After Your Decree of Legal Separation Enters?
Six months after a decree of legal separation has been issued, either spouse has the option of converting it to a decree of dissolution. Statute affords no legal basis to challenge such a request. Unless you have specified otherwise, the terms of the settlement terms applied to the divorce are usually the same as those of the separation.
Discuss Your Family Law Matter With Our Denver Legal Separation Lawyers!
Hiring an experienced family law lawyer may allow individuals to save money over the long term and ensure that their interests are guarded. At Plog & Stein, P.C., our family law attorneys work strategically, keeping you informed of how potential actions may affect both the outcome of the case and the financial cost of the separation, as well as a divorce, if that becomes an issue. The legal separation lawyers at our Denver firm are familiar with each step of the process and can put our insights to work for you. After all, we have more than 70 years of combined experience!
For more information about how we can help you with legal separation, please call our office at your earliest convenience.