Filing for a Legal Separation
While filing for a legal separation is the same process as filing for divorce, the reasons for these two decisions can be very different. While both legal separation and divorce will require the division of assets and debts, and the creation of a parenting plan, the emotional aspects associated with legal separation and divorce are not the same. When a couple obtains a divorce, they have made the decision to terminate their marriage. When a couple files for a legal separation, they are essentially taking a break from each other in order to give them the time and space they need to figure out exactly what they want to do. Sometimes simply walking away to a quiet space away from your spouse and the problems you share, can give you time to think, to reflect, and to decide how to proceed without just throwing in the towel and filing for divorce. When a married couple takes the step to legally separate, they are still legally bound by marriage, but are simply choosing to live separately for a while. Many legally separated couples decide after a few months apart that their next step is to file for divorce, but there are many other couples who, based on the time they took to evaluate their relationship, decide that there is greater value in staying together and working through their issues.
Should We Legally Separate or Divorce?
The decision to separate first is a wise option for couples who are not yet sure how to proceed. They know that living together in the same house is not working, but they don't know if they want to terminate their marriage. For couples who are not sure how to proceed, filing for a legal separation may be the best choice for them. But for couples who have spent considerable time identifying their issues and sorting out their problems and have finally concluded that they are better off apart, then filing for divorce is probably the best choice for them. But what all couples need to realize is no matter what your situation, filing for divorce should be your last option. You never want to look back at your life and say, "I wish I had tried harder to save my marriage." There are countless reasons why married couples decide to separate rather than divorce, but the important thing is to be sure that you have explored all other options first and are ready to let go of a relationship that once worked for both parties.
If We are Living Apart, Why Should We Stay Married?
- Many couples stay married for the sake of the children. They focus on the needs of their kids, and they stay together for the good of the family.
- Some couples remain together because they feel it is wrong to divorce based on their religious beliefs
- If one of the spouses is an active member of the military, some couples may choose to stay legally married so that the other spouse is eligible for military-provided benefits.
How Do I File for a Legal Separation?
When a couple files for a legal separation, the process is the same as filing for divorce. The couple will divide asset and debts and create a parenting plan to take care of their children. The difference between filing for a legal separation and filing for divorce is that at the end of the process, the couple who obtains a legal separation is still legally married.
What If I Change My Mind?
If the court has not yet finalized the separation agreement and entered the order for a legal separation; either spouse is within their rights to convert the legal separation to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. But if the parties have been separated for six months, they can choose to:
- Request that their legal separation be converted to a Dissolution of Marriage/divorce, or
- Dismiss the order entirely
- Remain legally separated
Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Divorce or Legal Separation
Divorce vs. a legal separation is not an easy decision and there is much to consider. If you have questions about how to proceed, talking with an experience Colorado family law attorney is a wise choice. Elissa Bercovitz has been practicing law for over 20 years, and she understands how difficult it is to make these choices. If you have questions, call Elissa Bercovitz at the Bercovitz Law Firm for a free consultation. Contact Elissa Bercovitz at 303 803 1678.