When you meet with your lawyer for the first time to discuss initiating proceedings to start the process of leaving your marriage as you have known it for some time, your discussion may very well begin with the question: Do you want to get a divorce, or a legal separation?
A lot of clients wonder why this is a question at all and, indeed, what is the difference?
First, a legal separation in Colorado provides the same boundaries that a divorce does so far as separating the finances, providing defaults for parenting time and decision-making, and even family financial support, while leaving the parties “married,” i.e., Husband and Wife.
Divorce on the other hand is a final dissolution of the marriage. The parties are legally single and can remarry after a divorce.
So why do people get legally separated instead of divorced? There are many answers because there are many different reasons people are looking to change the legal status of their romantic relationships. For instance, the couple might just want to “try” a separation before deciding on a divorce. They might not be happy with a divorce for religious reasons. Or, they might be looking to qualify for the 10-year qualification period to pass in order to get those social security benefits.
Indeed, a new trend has been to try and remain legally spouses in order to keep the health insurance and other employment benefits the recipient spouse often has incident to the relationship. However, what many people overlook in making decisions on this basis are the independent contractual and legal requirements of those benefit programs–many employers are now defining legal separation as tantamount to divorce for purposes of disqualifying an “ex” from receiving benefits.
This is why it is so important to have a conversation with your lawyer before making your decision about the process and petition that is right for you and your family.
The information in this post is not legal advice—it is only legal information. To obtain legal advice by hiring the attorneys of Broxterman Alicks McFarlane PC as your counsel, please contact the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-331-6432.