In Colorado, like many other states, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding legal separation. As a Colorado Springs divorce lawyer, I often meet with clients who think that because they have lived separately from their spouse for a while, they have already established a “legal separation in Colorado”. They are often very surprised to learn that the state knows nothing about this. In order to achieve the status of “legally separated”, couples must petition the court for a legal separation.
It is hard enough to keep financial records organized when a couple is getting along well, but when they separate it can be next to impossible. Couples in Colorado who try to maintain their marital financial obligations while living apart can become very frustrated. That’s why so many separated couples have an attorney prepare a marital separation agreement. This document allows the parties to keep their financial lives separate while they remain legally married.
When a decision is made to separate, most couples have some idea about the length of time they will be living apart. In some cases it is just temporary, or a “trial separation”, with a specified end date. But in most cases, separation is just an interim period that is leading to divorce. If you and your spouse are living apart for an extended period of time and a divorce is on the horizon, a separation marital agreement is highly recommended. The concept behind this is twofold. Marital separation agreements formalize all financial and property issues between the parties before they begin living separate lives; and, it allows them to prepare for the more permanent marital settlement agreement that will ultimately replace the separation marital agreement at the time of divorce.
When a couple decides to split up, it is not always with the intention to get divorced right away. However, with the future of their financial life together so uncertain, and the changes that will occur with raising minor children, it makes sense to draft a separation marital agreement in the interim. In the state of Colorado, unless a couple decides to make changes, marital separation agreements are often recognized at the time of divorce as the final agreement. If it is time for you to consider a separation marital agreement, then a Colorado Springs family law attorney can help.
Just like a divorce decree, a decree of legal separation addresses the issues of property division, debt assignment, and possibly spousal support. Couples with minor children will also need to establish child support and child custody. All financial matters, including tax filing status and dependency exemptions will need to be addressed in the decree of legal separation in Colorado.