As divorce attorneys in Colorado, we are often asked what a legal separation is and what it entails. A legal separation is not the same as being physically separated nor is it the same as a divorce or dissolution of marriage. A legal separation does not dissolve the marriage. Additionally, it authorizes the parties to live separately. Further, a legal separation will order any property acquired by either spouse after the date of the decree as separate property of that spouse.
Some of the primary reasons parties may opt for a legal separation over a divorce is due to religious purposes or for health care costs so that one spouse can remain on the insurance of the other party. Also, since the legal separation does not dissolve the marriage, neither spouse can remarry without first converting the legal separation to a dissolution of marriage.
Generally, a legal separation has the same procedures and time flow as a dissolution of marriage in Colorado. At the end the parties get a Decree of Legal Separation instead of a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
According to Colorado Revised Statue §14-10-120(2), no earlier than 182 days after then entry of a decree of legal separation, on motion of either party and proof that notice has been mailed to the other, the court shall convert the legal separation to a divorce decree. Therefore, if you get a decree of legal separation and want to convert it to a divorce, it will take a little over six months before you can request this change.
If you have questions about a legal separation in Colorado and how it differs from a divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Springs Law Group LLC to schedule an initial consultation to discuss the best steps in preparing for your case.