Colorado law allows couples to either seek to dissolve their marriages or file for legal separation at any time. Although the end result is that the couple is no longer together, there are key differences between a divorce and legal separation. The biggest difference is that a legal separation does not terminate the marriage.
Understanding a legal separation
If you choose to legally separate from your spouse, you will typically live apart from each other. Furthermore, a separation agreement will determine how marital assets are divided and whether either party to the relationship is entitled to alimony, child support or other resources from the other party. A separation agreement will also determine how parenting time is allocated if you share custody with your spouse.
Understanding a divorce
Obtaining a divorce means that your marriage is over, which means that you will lose some or all of the benefits associated with it. In a divorce settlement, you will receive a portion of the marital estate that may include the family home, funds in a bank account or funds in a retirement account. However, after a divorce, you may be required to pay alimony or child support to your spouse. Alternatively, you may be entitled to an amount determined either by a divorce judge or the terms of a prenuptial agreement.
If you decide to reconcile
During a legal separation, you have the right to reconcile with your spouse. If this happens, the separation agreement will be terminated, which means that you may no longer be required to provide a specific amount of child support or abide by other guidelines. You can also choose to remarry your spouse after obtaining a divorce assuming that you meet the legal requirements to do so.