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What steps make a Colorado marital separation legal or official?

Divorce is not the only solution to a marriage where change is necessary. One option many people in Colorado who are unhappy with their marriage tend to overlook is legal separation instead of a formal divorce or dissolution of their marriage. Some people consider a legal separation a stepping stone to divorce, which it can be, but it can also be a solution in and of itself.

Couples can choose to legally separate and effectively live their lives independent of one another without completing an actual divorce. However, much like divorce, there are legal requirements and rules in place that must be met for a legal separation to comply with Colorado law. Learning a little bit more about those requirements can help you decide if a legal separation is the right choice for your marriage.

What is the difference between a formal and an informal separation?

An informal separation can impact your life but not your legal status. You can decide to informally separate from your spouse at any time. Choosing to move out and live separately does not necessarily require any legal assistance. However, your marriage will still be valid, which could lead to legal or financial complications in the future.

A formal or legal separation requires a similar process to a standard divorce or dissolution. In technical terms, spouses remain married, which can give either individual access to health insurance or potentially military or government benefits, making it popular for those with marriage issues related to health problems. A legal separation can also be a better option for people who are part of a religious community that doesn't approve of divorce.

What are the drawbacks of a legal separation?

Unlike a standard divorce, which only requires the consent or action of one spouse to initiate, a legal separation requires the consent of both spouses. Additionally, needing to go to court for the legal separation can be both time-consuming and potentially expensive. Finally, if either of you reach a point where you want to marry someone else in the future, you will have to go back to court and formalize the end of your marriage.

However, if you have been legally separated for six months, it is possible to request that the courts change your legal separation to a divorce decree. It's important that you realize that it is not always a quick and painless process to convert a legal separation into a formal divorce. Although the technical process can be quick and painless, if either spouse believes that there needs to be a change to the terms set in the legal separation, additional negotiations and court proceedings may become necessary.

Navigating the process of securing the legal separation instead of a divorce can quickly become difficult, but for some people, it may be an ideal solution to the current issues in their family.

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