A lot of divorcing spouses will casually say, “We are legally separated,”
but that is not the case. In reality, the married couple either split
up and are living apart (or in separate bedrooms), or one of them hired
an attorney, who filed the divorce papers in court. Living apart or filing
for divorce is NOT the same as a “legal separation” under
In Colorado, married couples who no longer want to “be together”
have two choices: 1) they can seek a
divorce, or 2) they can file for
legal separation. Once the couple makes their choice, they will follow a series of legal
steps and when the process is complete, a judge will either issue a decree
of dissolution of marriage (divorce), or a decree of legal separation.
What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation? Which
one is right for you and your family? Read on as we explain the differences
between these two legal tools.
Legal Separation in Colorado
When a couple obtains a “decree of legal separation” in Colorado,
all of the same issues that are addressed in a divorce will be covered
in the legal separation, such as
child custody and visitation,
child support and
spousal maintenance or alimony,
property and debt division, who will pay which bills, and health insurance. Essentially,
a decree of legal separation addresses the same exact issues that are
addressed in a divorce.
Two key ways legal separation is different than a divorce:
One of the major differences is that the
spouses cannot remarry when they are legally separated; that’s because they are still technically
married. In order for a legally separated couple to remarry, they would
have to convert their legal separation into a divorce.
Unless there is a written agreement, such as a
prenuptial agreement stating otherwise, spouses who are legally separated do not lose their
A legal separation is
not that much different than a divorce, except for the fact that the spouses cannot remarry –
because they in fact remain married to each other, that’s definitely
the biggest difference. That being said, why do people decide to get legally
separated rather than divorced?
In our experience, people choose legal separations for the following reasons:
1) they have religious or moral objections against divorce, 2) an ill
or disabled husband or wife needs their spouse’s health insurance,
or 3) the couple is not sure if they want a divorce so they want to “test
the waters” so to speak by living separately.
We hope this post answers your questions. For further information, don’t
hesitate to contact Jones Law Firm, PC to speak with an experienced divorce attorney.
Looking for a Denver divorce lawyer? Contact us todayfor a free consultation.