Dissolution of Marriage vs. Legal Separation: What Is the Difference?

couple with folded hands in front of divorce decree paper

Different states have different laws on legal separation. In fact, six states do not recognize legal separation at all, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

In Colorado, there is no difference between a legal separation and a dissolution of marriage except that at the end of a dissolution of marriage you are no longer legally married and at the end of a legal separation you are still legally married.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is when a couple divides assets, allocates parental responsibilities (if applicable), determines if there is any spousal maintenance, and often lives separately, but technically remain married in the eyes of the law. As such, legally separated individuals cannot get remarried to someone else; furthermore, they must mark that they are married on official forms.

At the end of a legal separation, the court will issue a Decree of Legal Separation. Couples may opt for a legal separation instead of a divorce for religious reasons, personal reasons, cultural reasons, financial decisions, benefits (i.e., health insurance), or for reasons related to their children.

Dissolution of Marriage

A dissolution of marriage effectively terminates your marriage with a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. In Addition to dividing your assets, allocating parental responsibilities, and addressing spousal maintenance, you and your spouse will be legally unmarried at the end of the proceedings. As such, both parties can legally get remarried after a dissolution of marriage.

The process and procedure for obtaining a legal separation or a dissolution of marriage is essentially identical in Colorado. Both parties still must complete full financial disclosures, attend mediation if they are unable to come to an agreement on their own, and attend a Permanent Orders Hearing in the event no agreement is reached. When in doubt about your decision regarding a dissolution of marriage vs. a legal separation, speak to a divorce attorney in Colorado. Solutions Based Family Law is here for you: (720) 463-2232.

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