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The Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in Colorado

April 10, 2024 | Divorce, Family Law

Navigating the intricacies of family law in Colorado can be complex, especially when it comes to understanding the distinctions between divorce and legal separation. Legal separation and divorce in Colorado will achieve essentially the same outcome, but they have vastly different legal implications. It is important to understand those differences when making your decision, and we will explain the differences below.

Divorce vs Legal Separation in Colorado

While divorce and legal separation are similar, they have one stark difference legally speaking. The main difference is that after a decree of separation is made, the parties will still be legally married, whereas in a divorce their marriage is dissolved.

In both a legal separation and a divorce in Colorado, you:

With legal separation, because both parties are still legally married, they will be unable to remarry unless they convert to divorce.

A conversion to divorce is simple, either party may file to convert their Decree of Legal Separation into a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) at any time after being separated legally for six months.

Why Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce?

There are a variety of reasons to opt for legal separation over divorce. These reasons can include:

  • Health insurance: spouses choose separation over divorce to allow one spouse to stay on the other’s health insurance policy
  • Less permanence: it gives both parties the freedom to live separately but they get to keep their tax and insurance benefits.
  • Religion: in some religions, divorce is not accepted. Legally separating can allow the parties to go their separate ways without violating their religious views.
  • Tax purposes: after divorce, both parties will no longer be able to file jointly, they will need to file separately as “single” or “head of household”. This can be complicated and lead to increased taxes that they may not be financially prepared for.

It is important to note that if you choose to legally separate over divorce, there will be some things that you cannot do, such as remarrying or cohabitating with a new partner. You will, however, be able to date. Should you decide you want to remarry or cohabitate with a new partner, you will simply need to file to convert your decree of separation to a divorce decree.

Do I Need An Attorney For A Legal Separation?

Colorado does not require you to have an attorney for legal separation or for divorce. However, it is important to keep in mind that both separation and divorce have serious legal and long-term financial consequences, so it may be in your best interest to work with a skilled family law attorney.

An experienced family law lawyer in Boulder will be able to help you protect your financial interests and ensure you understand the financial and legal implications of the agreement you are entering into. They will work with you to guide you through the process, help you understand your options, and make informed decisions every step of the way.

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