Choosing a legal separation as a married can be both complicated and stressful, requiring you to rethink some of the most basic foundations on which you have established your life. Legal separation is a way for two spouses to put a pause on their marriage, leaving room for reconciliation down the line.
An effective separation agreement may address how the couple will divide their assets and debts, as well as delineate how child custody and child support will be handled. Additionally, the agreement may include terms regarding alimony payments. If you are considering the process of separating from your spouse, either temporarily or permanently, a Littleton separation agreements lawyer can guide you through the appropriate steps required by the state of Colorado.
To file for legal separation in Colorado, an applicant must follow certain formalities for the agreement to be valid. An individual may file for separation in the state if they or their spouse has lived in Colorado for at least 91 days, and they would file the paperwork with the district court in the county where they or their spouse lives.
The timing may be different if the couple wants to include provisions relating to custody or child support within their agreement. If the couple has minor children who have not lived in the state for at least 182 days immediately before the filing, or since birth if the child is younger than 6 months, Colorado courts may not be able to enforce or enter any stipulations relating to parental responsibilities.
The process begins with one or both spouse completing the required forms and filing them in the appropriate county. Either spouse may file for separation independently, or the couple may submit the paperwork jointly. If one spouse files alone, they are the petitioner and their spouse is the respondent. The petitioner must serve the filed paperwork to the respondent.
In certain circumstances, both parties will have to attend an initial status conference to discuss where the case stands and exchange paperwork. There are also situations in which the spouses cannot agree on the terms of their separation agreement and must participate in mediation or a contested hearing. An attorney in Littleton who has experience with the separation process can instruct the parties on how to best prepare and on what they will need to submit to the court.
Upon satisfaction of these steps, the court will issue a decree of separation after a mandatory waiting period. This may be entered on the 92nd day after a couple files jointly, the 92nd day after a petitioner serves a respondent with separation paperwork, or upon the conclusion of a contested hearing.
Legal separation gives spouses an opportunity to test the waters to determine whether living separately works well for them without the finality of divorce. After a set period of time, the couple may decide to convert the separation to a divorce, or they may choose to reconcile. Still, some spouses choose a permanent break. Some of these reasons may include:
If the couple has determined that they have reconciled the differences that led to their filing for separation, they may petition the court to terminate the separation agreement. The court may require the spouses to demonstrate proof of reconciliation of any contested terms.
Legal separation need not be permanent, and it provides a valuable opportunity for individuals to decide whether they wish to reconcile or remain apart. The couple may choose to convert the separation to a divorce or rekindle the marriage.
The conditions of a separation agreement could have long-lasing implications for a couple, socially, emotionally, and financially. A Littleton separation agreements lawyer can provide guidance on the best way to structure the terms of your separation, as well as help you identify all of the paperwork you must submit. Call us today to discuss the nuances of a separation agreement.