Legal separation in Denver has the potential to be very confusing. While navigating through the separation process, you have so many things to consider. First off, you’ll need to take into account your property, children, bills, debts, and much more. On top of that, your spouse might not want to play fair, especially in a high asset separation. The best way to make the process easier is to hire a qualified Colorado divorce attorney who has extensive experience in legal separation, and who will help determine your legal separation cost in 2021.
At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, we strive to keep the separation process as smooth as possible for our clients. From Colorado asset valuations to finding hidden assets in a divorce, our knowledgeable attorneys do it all. Don’t let your spouse’s lawyer take advantage of you. Hire a firm that’s capable of handling complex financial situations and taking charge of your future. If you’d like to arrange a consultation with one of our legal separation attorneys, please give us a call at 303-951-4506 today.
What is Legal Separation?
First, let’s cover the basics. What exactly is legal separation? How is it any different from divorce? Notably, they sound similar at first until you get down to the legal matters. Legally separated couples undergo property division and live separately from each other. However, they are still legally married. Likewise, it is important to remember that simply living apart from your spouse does not make you legally separated. Separation involves its own legal process, much like divorce. Below, we outline the key steps to achieving legal separation in Colorado.
- You and your spouse agree that separation is the right thing to do. Both parties negotiate a separation agreement including decisions about child custody, property division, and spousal support. In order to calculate child support, we recommend visiting the Colorado Judicial site and using their calculator.
- Even if your spouse does not agree to the terms of the separation agreement, you can still file without them. However, you must have lived in the state of Colorado for at least 90 days prior to filing for separation. You will file in your county of residence.
- File a petition for separation with your county with the appropriate paperwork. You and your spouse then sign the petition in front of a notary. Take the paperwork to your county clerk. Keep in mind that these petitions often involve fees, so check with your county clerk beforehand.
- The court system then either finds your marriage to be either irreparably broken, or they find that both parties agree to live apart from each other. In this way, they rule on your petition for separation.
How Divorce Is Different from Legal Separation:
This is a slightly more complicated process compared to legal separation. At the end of the court proceedings, the courts legally terminate your marriage. This means that, along with living apart and dividing your property, you now have the option to remarry if you so choose. Legal separation does not allow for remarriage. After the divorce is final, certain things change. Below, we outline some legal differences between married and unmarried life.
- On official forms, you will now mark “unmarried” or “single” instead of “married.”
- You may no longer inherit from each other.
- Additionally, you lose spousal insurance, social security benefits associated with married persons, and pension benefits.
How Much is a Legal Separation?
In Colorado, legal separation has certain costs and fees associated with it. We’re here to list those in order to give you an idea of the baseline costs. However, keep in mind that this is not a concrete cost. Below, we outline the legal separation cost in 2021 for Colorado.
- Petition for dissolution of marriage: $230.00
- Filing petition for allocation of parental rights: $225.00
- To file an answer to the petition: $116.00
- To serve the petition on the other party: $50-$70 (approximately)
- If filing a co-petition, this avoids the cost of filing, answer, and service.
Do I Need a Separation Agreement?
Not necessarily. If you and your spouse want to live apart, you can do that. However, we recommend getting with your attorney to discuss a separation agreement. This ensures that your debts are in order, you protect your assets, all child support and alimony is determined, and property is appropriately divided. Even just wanting to settle it in writing is a good enough reason to work out a separation agreement. You do not achieve the “legally separated” status without going through the process.
How Long Does Legal Separation Last?
In some cases, one or both spouses eventually want to remarry. If they decide that they want to pursue a marriage with someone else, the legal separation ends. However, separated couples cannot convert their separation into divorce until 6 months after the judge of the case ordered the legal separation. Consider speaking with your lawyer about a Colorado postnuptial agreement if you want to leave the door open for returning to your spouse.
Is Legal Separation Right For Me?
Why do couples pursue legal separation over divorce? Many reasons exist for why someone might want to separate from their spouse rather than divorcing them. Below, we included some of the reasons our clients have opted for separation over divorce.
- Separated couples maintain their tax benefits.
- Certain religious barriers exist that disallow individuals from divorcing.
- Some couples want to avoid the perceived stigma associated with divorce.
- Separation agreements allow for a certain level of legal clarity in terms of property division, child custody, etc.
- These court agreements make it easier to enforce the agreed-upon matters.
- Other reasons include incompatibility, abandonment, adultery, and cruelty. These reasons mirror those often seen in divorce.
Speak with a Qualified Legal Separation Lawyer in Colorado
Our Denver family lawyers at Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton know that what you’re going through is a difficult process. We have years of experience helping our clients overcome the stress of the situation, navigate the legal system, and reach solutions that benefit them. From legal separation to divorce to other family law issues, we know the laws of Colorado inside and out. For more information on we can help you, feel free to give us a call about a consultation at 303-951-4506 today.