A legal separation is similar to a divorce in many ways. When a party files for a legal separation, they will go through the same process as if they were going through a divorce. That means that the parties will be required to exchange financial information, attend status conferences and court hearings, and orders will be entered with regard to the division of property and debts, maintenance (alimony), child support, and child custody.
The biggest difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that at the end of the case, you receive a decree of legal separation, meaning that you are legally still married. The question therefore arises, if you have to go through the same process as a divorce, why would a legal separation be the better route to go?
What are the benefits of a legal separation?
Occasionally parties do not desire to remain in a relationship with one another, but they do desire to remain legally married. For example, if one spouse is chronically ill and the other spouse carries the health insurance, the parties may decide to legally separate but remain married so that the ill spouse can maintain their insurance coverage. If you are considering a legal separation for this reason, it is wise to check with your insurance provider before making any decisions on legal separation versus divorce because some policies terminate coverage if the parties are legally separated.
Parties may also desire to remain married for other financial or religious reasons. Occasionally, people who are in the public eye will choose legal separation rather than divorce as a way to reduce publicity surrounding a break-up.
What are the downsides to a legal separation?
If you are legally separated, you are still married. That means that you cannot remarry any time in the future unless you go through the divorce process first. If you think you may want to remarry at some point in the future, it may not make sense to move forward with a legal separation.
Can a legal separation be converted into a divorce?
Yes. After a decree of legal separation is granted, either party can request that the decree be converted into a decree of dissolution of marriage. However, the decree cannot be converted until at least six months have passed from the date the decree of legal separation was granted. Therefore, if you think you will want to convert the decree soon after it is granted, you are better off asking the court to convert the case from a legal separation case to a dissolution of marriage case while the case is still pending.
Are you seeking the services of a Fort Collins divorce attorney, who also serves clients all over Northern Colorado? Contact Laura Monty Law to schedule an initial consultation.