How Long Do You Have to Be Separated in Colorado Before Getting a Divorce?

Legal separation and divorce are two separate processes, and though they are similar, each produces a different outcome. While there is a process to convert a legal separation into a dissolution of marriage, it is not required. Divorce doesn’t need legal separation to occur before filing the petition.

Some divorces begin while both spouses still live together. However, this doesn’t mean you must remain living in the same space as your spouse, especially if the relationship is strained.It might even be an effective decision to live separately, as this could help lower complications in the negotiations for divorce.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Denver

The main difference between legal separation and divorce is in the outcome and in the time it takes for it to be effective. The negotiation of separation of property and assets are the same in both divorce and legal separation. Both processes also recognize the separation of the couple. In a legal separation, however, the parties are still technically married while being legally separated. Because of this, neither party can remarry, and both spouses share the same life and healthcare insurance benefits. They also still share the same parenting responsibilities.

Oftentimes, legal separation is a precursor to divorce. However, it can also be an independent process that doesn’t end in divorce.It can be used by spouses who religiously disagree with divorce, aren’t able to financially support themselves after full divorce, or simply don’t wish for the finality of divorce.

Once a couple has had legal separation for six months, either party can file for divorce, by which the marriage will be completely dissolved. They are no longer married technically or legally, and both parties are free to remarry.

It is best to seek legal counsel if you’re trying to decide the best course of action for you and your spouse. Divorce and separation laws can be complex, and having a knowledgeable family law attorney walking you through the requirements, and showing you how they apply to your specific situation, can be useful.

Benefits of Legal Separation or Divorce

There are several reasons why a couple might prefer legal separation to divorce. Some of these include:

  • Tax and insurance benefits. Some state and federal tax benefits are available only to couples, and remaining legally married while being legally separated allows a couple to keep some of those benefits. Similarly, spouses may be able to share the same insurance coverage benefits.
  • Keeping the family together. Keeping a family legally together despite being separated can help some couples in sharing responsibility for children, as well as in providing more support for their children. This is why many couples remain married legally until their children become adults.
  • Religious beliefs. Some religions dislike or prohibit divorce, and a couple may want to have the benefits of divorce without disagreeing with their own religious beliefs surrounding a full legal divorce.

Petitioning for Dissolution of Marriage After Legal Separation

The process for legal separation is an agreement by both parties to file, and then the court issues a decree if it finds the separation agreement to be fair.

If either party wants to convert a legal separation into a divorce or dissolution of marriage, they must wait six months after the decree of separation. You’re required to remain legally separated and unable to remarry for six months before you become divorced. In some situations, legal separation can delay divorce because of those six months, but the conversion of one process into the other, once started, is usually faster.

After those six months, either spouse can file a request for conversion to a dissolution decree. Conversion is usually faster than divorce because the separation agreement and decree already exist, and they can be easily incorporated into the dissolution of marriage decree.

Sometimes, spouses may need to have further negotiations to change terms before the divorce. Further negotiations, if needed, can be helped greatly by an experienced divorce and legal separation lawyer by your side. Because of how confusing and changing family law can be, having an attorney working in your best interests with full knowledge of the law can speed up the process to a great degree.


Q: Do I need to be separated before divorce?

A: Separation is not required to file a divorce. However, legal separation can function as the initiation of the process of divorce, beginning the process while preventing financial liabilities between spouses. It can also be useful if both parties are unsure of being ready for the finality of divorce. Divorce can be filed without any legal separation, and it is sometimes filed while spouses are still living together.

Q: What is considered legal separation?

Q: How long can you stay legally separated?

Q: Can you date while separated in Colorado?

Finding Your Divorce or Separation Attorney

It’s important to find a compassionate and experienced attorney who protects your best interests and guides you through the complicated process of divorce or separation. Contact Woody Law Firm, LLC, to see how our attorneys can advocate your rights with their experience in family law.

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