Legal separation and divorce are two different things in Colorado. If you are legally separated from your spouse and you wish to get divorced instead, there is a process to convert your separation into a divorce. Here are the key differences between legal separation and divorce, and how you can change the former to the latter.
Differences Between Legal Separation And Divorce In CO
Legal separation in Colorado is very similar to divorce in that the spouses live separate lives with their assets divided between them. As soon as the separation process is concluded, the couple’s split is recognized by law. However, this differs significantly from divorce, because in legal separation, the couple is still technically married.
This means that neither spouse can remarry while being legally separated. Both spouses may also continue to share some marriage benefits (such as healthcare plans) and responsibilities (such as parenting).
The only way to become completely unmarried is through divorce. This is why divorce is also called Dissolution of Marriage or Termination of Marriage. A divorced person is no longer considered married under the law, and is thus free to remarry.
Couples typically choose legal separation over divorce for personal, financial, or religious reasons. There are also some who think of legal separation as a ‘test run’ before divorce. However, getting legally separated is an end in itself, requiring a court process similar to that of divorce.
Converting A Legal Separation To Divorce
To get legally separated, a spouse petitions the court for Legal Separation and the court then issues its decree to make it official. This separation decree can later be converted to a Decree of Dissolution (divorce) if either spouse requests it.
However, a legally separated spouse must wait six months from the issuance of the separation decree before they can request the court for conversion divorce. This means that they have to stay legally separated (and unable to remarry) for half a year before they can fully end their marriage.
Usually, however, the conversion process is much quicker, as the separation decree will simply be incorporated into the divorce decree. Judges typically give the order in about a month. In a few cases, the spouses may have to revisit or change some terms in the separation decree before it is converted to divorce, but most conversions conclude without delays.
How To Convert Colorado Separation To Divorce
After you have been legally separated for six months, you can begin the conversion divorce process.
First, complete the paperwork for your “Motion to Convert” and file those documents with the court. These forms are downloadable from the Colorado Judicial Branch website. There is a filing fee of $105. After filing, you must wait until the judge or magistrate reviews your request. In a few weeks, you and your ex-spouse will likely receive the court’s “Order to Convert the Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage” as well as the “Decree for Dissolution”. These finally conclude your divorce.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your split from your spouse, please reach out to us at Goldman Law. Our experienced attorneys are ready to advise you for a smooth and fair separation or divorce.