If you feel your relationship isn’t working and nothing you do seems to fix it, naturally, you will start thinking about getting a divorce. However, it isn’t an easy decision to make and it’s one that will create lifelong changes not for you but for many other people, so you shouldn’t rush into any decision right away.
Over the years, we at The Gasper Law Group have helped countless couples and families reach a unique divorce agreement that works for them. We have seen it all and we know that there are many things you need to consider before you actually file the divorce papers. Here are a few things to think about when making the decision to start the divorce process with your spouse.
Why You Want a Divorce
Colorado is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce, meaning the parties may simply state their marriage is “irretrievably broken” and such a statement will be sufficient proof to the court. Even though the Court doesn’t require a more detailed explanation, understanding why you want a divorce is important. Emotions can be heavy, so take an honest look at your motivation for a divorce. Maybe you are angry and frustrated or you want your partner to treat you better. You’ll want to consider if there is a possibility of reconciliation and working through the problems. You wouldn’t want to realize that getting a divorce was a mistake after you have gone through with it.
The Type of Separation You Want
In the state of Colorado, there are two ways to end a married relationship: legal separation and divorce.
A legal separation is when a couple divides assets and lives separately; however, you are still technically married and can’t remarry. Couples may choose legal separation for religious reasons while others may want to keep military or tax benefits that are only available to married couples or keep health insurance in effect for their spouse. (If you’re considering a legal separation for health insurance reasons, be sure that a legal separation won’t count as a disqualifying event.) A legal separation is an alternative if divorce seems too final, letting spouses formally distance themselves while still leaving the door open for reconciliation.
The process for legal separation is similar to divorce and involves obtaining a court judgment regarding issues including property division, alimony, and child support and custody. With a legal separation, the couple is still legally married. Legal separations will remain in effect until parties file a petition to reverse the separation (keep the marriage in effect) or convert the case to a divorce (end the marriage). If you and your spouse decide to divorce after a legal separation order is in place, you could choose to use some or all of the established terms in a marital settlement agreement.
A divorce is when the courts terminate the marriage at the end of court proceedings. Instead of simply living apart and separating your assets, you and your spouse will be legally unmarried. The main difference between legal separation and divorce is the freedom to remarry. Only a divorce formally ends your marriage, allowing you to legally move forward as a single person and remarry in the future. After a divorce, you do not have to mark that you are married on official forms, as you would if you were only legally separated. You lose the right to inherit from one another, as well as any spousal insurance, social security, and pension benefits.
If you and your spouse have children together, ending the marriage doesn’t necessarily mean ending the relationship completely. You may not be married anymore, but you will always be parents, so think about the format for your parenting cooperation before you divorce. Additionally, you’ll need to think about when and how to tell your children about your decision to divorce. It can feel extremely hard to find the right words in this situation. To get ready for the conversation, there are many things you need to understand clearly for yourself first to be able to explain them to your children, such as what you will say, how you will explain the reasons for your decision, what your co-parenting relationship with your spouse will look like after the divorce, etc.
Military Members and Separation
If your family law case involves an active duty, reserve, or military retiree, you have a military divorce.
Dating After Separation
In most states, civilians are allowed to date someone else if they’re separated from their spouses. However, if you are a member of the military and date someone other than your spouse while your divorce is pending or even after you are legally separated, you risk being charged with the crime of adultery. You may argue that you were no longer married because you and your spouse were living separate and apart, or were legally separated, but that argument is not necessarily going to succeed. Under military law, the only way to officially and legally end your marriage and be free to date someone else is through a divorce.
Benefits After Separation
A legally separated spouse is eligible to maintain their military identification card and all benefits, except that military retirement and Survivor Benefit Plan eligibility is determined at the time that a decree of legal separation is issued. However, in a divorce, most spouses (depending on the length of the marriage) will no longer be able to keep an identification card and will lose most benefits.
Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney for You
When divorce is inevitable, it’s important to make sure you hire an attorney whom you trust and are comfortable discussing the details of your situation. Family law can appear simple, but underneath the surface, it can be very complex. That’s why your lawyer needs to be familiar with the statute and recent case law as well as have a working knowledge of all of the related issues such as real estate, retirement accounts, potential tax implications, and more. Choosing a divorce attorney is not just about picking the best attorney, it’s about picking the best attorney for you. Learn more about what to consider when choosing an attorney.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Divorce Lawyers
The Gasper Law Group offers free initial consultations for family law and divorce matters. Contact us today to speak to our experienced divorce attorneys. We have the knowledge and resources to help you navigate this complicated time.