When looking into options at the end of a marriage, you may run across the terms “divorce,” “separation,” and “legal separation.” So, what’s the difference?
A divorce, which in Colorado is called a dissolution of marriage, is the process in which a couple ends their marriage in every way. A lawyer can guide you through divorce, and generally you will deal with issues like alimony, distribution of marital property, child support, parental decision-making, and parenting time. Just like a divorce, a legal separation deals with these issues, except that the final order issued by a judge says that the couple is still married. A legal separation can be converted into a dissolution of marriage, but you probably want to speak with an attorney before choosing which to file in the first place and most people go straight for the divorce.
A separation is a little more well known. It’s when a married couple remains married but lives separately for a while. It’s a good idea, if you and your spouse are separating, to write up a contract of some sort with your spouse especially with regard to issues concerning any children you have in common. Separating from your partner can give both of you time to think and be sure about your decision to get a divorce. However, it is generally not a good idea to separate from a spouse in the long term without pursuing a divorce as there can be implications for alimony, government and insurance benefits, child support, and an existing marriage prevents you from re-marrying.
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