There are certain reasons why a married couple in Colorado may wish to pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce. For example, they may have financial issues that make a legal separation preferable to a divorce. They may want to formally give themselves time apart before making the final decision whether to end their marriage. Or, they may have religious beliefs that make a legal separation preferable to a divorce. In the end, a legal separation can accomplish many things a divorce can. These things will be addressed per statute in a separation agreement.
A separation agreement is a written agreement entered into by the parties that outlines the terms of their separation. A separation agreement can include provisions regarding spousal maintenance, asset division, parental responsibilities, parenting time and child support. These are the same legal issues that would be addressed if the spouses were pursuing a divorce.
The provisions in the separation agreement regarding spousal maintenance and property division will be binding, unless the court determines that the agreement is unconscionable based on the economic circumstances of each spouse and other relevant evidence. The provisions regarding parental responsibilities, parenting time and child support will be considered, but are not legally binding, as the court must make such decisions per state statute and based on the best interests of the child.
Like a divorce, there are residency requirements that must be followed to obtain a legal separation and there must be a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage. However, some people may still decide that a legal separation is a better option for them than a divorce. Therefore, it is important to understand what is required to pursue one and what a separation agreement can contain.