Legal Separation

Legal Separations are rare. Every case I have ever had which began as a legal separation either turned into a divorce, or the parties became reconciled.

Both parties must agree to be able to obtain a legal separation. Because divorce is no fault in Colorado, it takes only one person to state under oath that his or her marriage is "irretrievably broken" to be able to obtain a divorce.

There are several reasons why a party might want a legal separation instead of a divorce. One reason is that one of the parties, usually the wife, wants to remain on her husband's health insurance policy through his employment for a certain length of time, until she can obtain her own health insurance. A second reason is because a couple may be in marital counseling, and neither side is sure he or she wants a divorce, but one of the parties wants some protection from the other party's spendthrift ways.

Legal separation is like a no–man's land between marriage and divorce. It is not quite either. The parties go through the same exact process as a divorce, but simply end up with a different decree. Once a legal separation decree is issued, neither side can request a divorce until six (6) months pass. After the six (6) months are over either side can obtain a divorce by simply requesting the same from the Court, filing the proper paperwork, and notifying the other side in writing. The Court will then issue a decree of dissolution.

A legal separation can last for years, if neither side requests that it be turned into a divorce.

A legal separation can, however, be dismissed at any time after it is issued, if both parties sign a joint document to dismiss it. When that document is filed with the Court, the Judge will dismiss the legal separation, and the parties are married again, just as if the action had never been filed.

You may look up Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) Title 14, Article 10, Sections 110 and 111 for further information.