Thinking about separating from your spouse? Need a little time to sort things out and see what the next step is in your marriage? The partners at Knies, Helland & McPherson in Colorado Springs, CO, can help.
At Knies, Helland & McPherson, we understand that marriage is a sensitive issue and deciding to separate is not an easy choice to make. Every couple’s situation is different, which is why we work with you to create an individualized plan to assist you in reaching your goals.
Our attorneys are experts in divorce law and know the specific rules and regulations regarding legal separation in Colorado. We will provide you with guidance and support to make sure you take the steps necessary to have a lawful separation, should that be what you choose. Our goal is to help you work through this difficult time to move toward a better, more successful future.
If you are considering a separation, give us a call today at 719-635-8499 to discuss your unique situation in complete confidentiality.
Many couples take a bit of a “cooling off” period when they are contemplating a divorce or even attempting to reconcile. However, a legal separation is more than just a personal choice to take some time apart. A court approved separation is one that legally defines enforceable rights as well as obligations on the behalf of each party, but it does not permanently dissolve the marriage. A legal separation differs from an informal separation in that it is court-ordered and must be approved by law. This arrangement also differs from a formal divorce as the marriage continues to exist following a legal separation.
In Colorado, a legal separation is an alternative to a divorce or annulment. The advantage of this type of arrangement is that all financial and custody arrangements are final (including child support as well as property and debt division), but the marriage still exists for such purposes of health care plans, insurance, and benefits (your insurer may have specific rules regarding a legal separation and whether coverage may continue). It is important to understand that with a legal separation, Colorado legislation does still recognize the spouses as married, so neither individual can remarry without first getting a dissolution.
Many spouses seek a legal separation assuming it will be simpler than a divorce, but that is not the case. The process includes all ofthe same procedures as a divorce. It just has a slightly different outcome. Our attorneys will talk through your options with you and help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each option so you can come to a thoughtful decision as to whether separation or divorce is more fitting in your specific situation.
To begin filing for a legal separation in Colorado, you will first need to meet the state’s residency requirements. Once that requirement has been satisfied, you will need to file a petition with the court for a legal separation. While you can complete the necessary paperwork on your own, it is in your best interest to work with a lawyer to make sure the paperwork you submit is accurate and complete.
The separation agreement must include provisions for the division of your property, child custody and visitation rights, child support and/or alimony to be paid, liability for any debts owed, and any other specific details. One of our lawyers from Knies, Helland & McPherson can review your agreement and make sure you have taken all necessary factors into consideration.
After the initial paperwork is finalized, it will need to be served to your spouse, unless the two of you have chosen to file jointly. Once the petition is served, each spouse has a certain period of time to respond. If you both agree to the provisions in the agreement, then it will need to be notarized and presented to the court.
At this point, it is often best to work out any disagreements with the help of a mediator. Our attorneys will work with you to achieve a peaceful agreement; however, if one cannot be reached, the separation will need to go before a judge.
Once you and your spouse have come to agreeable terms, you will each need to sign the separation agreement and submit it the judge for review. The final document will be approved and filed with the county clerk. It is possible to convert a legal separation into a divorce later; however, specific time limits do apply. If you choose to do so, we can provide you with the specific requirements that need to be met to convert the separation.
The reality is that when you are filing for a legal separation, you have just as much at stake as if you were filing for divorce. Child and/or spousal support, child custody, visitation time, division of funds and retirement are all things that the judge will decide in your separation.
Considering all that is on the line, it is in your best interest to hire a professional, like Knies, Helland & McPherson, who handles this type of case as a profession. Separation is just as harrowing of a process as divorce, and it is difficult to remain objective if you attempt to represent yourself. Our knowledgeable family law attorneys will empathize with you throughout the process, but still guide you with a keen sense of objectivity and discretion.
The length of time it takes to be granted a legal separation varies depending on several factors. A case in which you and your spouse quickly agree on terms will move more quickly than one in which you disagree on everything. It is important to understand, though, that even if you agree on everything, your petition will still have to go before a court for approval. Working with our knowledgeable attorneys at Knies, Helland & McPherson will help you move through the process as quickly and effectively as possible by avoiding incomplete paperwork and other commonly missed issues.
While you can obtain the paperwork necessary to complete and submit a legal separation to the court, it is not advisable to take this “kitchen table” approach. Not only do couples often miss important details, but it is also common for disputes to arise and for both of you to end up hiring lawyers anyway. Likewise, it is not uncommon for individuals attempting to do-it-themselves to miss important allocations of assets, such as one of the spouse’s pensions. Working with a trustworthy and knowledgeable attorney, like our partners at Knies, Helland & McPherson, will insure that all of your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed so you won’t have to attempt to backtrack later.
Separation is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it even harder by trying to figure it out on your own. Allow one of our resourceful and kindhearted attorneys to walk through this process with you and make sure your needs are met.
Call Knies, Helland & McPherson to schedule your private consultation today.