Legal Separation vs. Dissolution of Marriage

Many people wonder what the difference between a legal separation and divorce is.  A Decree of Legal Separation is a court order where the parties may be formally separated without actually ending the marital relationship.  On the other hand, a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) is a court order that terminates the marriage due to findings that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There are many similarities and differences between legal separation and dissolution of marriage, and you need to be aware of these facts before you can make a good decision for your own situation.

Most importantly, you need to realize that the court decides on the issues of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and property division in both proceedings. The entire court process will be almost identical.  Also, for the purpose of federal taxes, in both legal separation and dissolution the parties are treated as unmarried.

However, although a legal separation and dissolution have procedural similarities, you need to look at the differences between them in choosing which route to take.  In Colorado, one of the main differences between a legal separation and dissolution of marriage is that the parties are not free to remarry after a legal separation.  If neither one of you wants to remarry, a legal separation might be something to consider.  For example, you may want a legal separation for religious reasons or to maintain insurance, pensions, employment or certain military benefits.  Make sure you look over your insurance and benefit plans carefully because some policies consider a legal separation the same as a divorce.

Other reasons to consider a legal separation?  Perhaps your relationship is troubled, and you want to do something, but you just can’t bring yourself to file for divorce.  A legal separation might be a way to let your partner know about your concerns, issues or problems that exist in your marriage.  A Petition for Legal Separation might be a way to ease the other party into the fact that your marriage may be ending.

Your decision to end a marriage is a very personal and emotional decision to make.  Knowing the right path to take is essential for you to make plans and decisions for the future.    We can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of both a legal separation and a dissolution of marriage proceeding.  As we listen to your specific case, we can help you choose the proper route to take.

* This is not considered legal advice, and the legal system constantly changes.  If you want current and accurate legal advice, please contact our office and arrange to speak with an attorney.  719-687-2328

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