As divorce lawyers in Colorado Springs, often our clients ask us whether they can start dating while they’re separated from their spouses. However, before you set up your dating profile on eHarmony or Tinder looking for a match, it’s imperative to know how dating during separation can affect your divorce in Colorado. In this article, we’ll help you understand the legal and practical ramifications you may face if you start dating before your divorce is finalized. Let’s see if we can find an answer to “Can I date once my spouse and I are separated?”
What Does Legal Separation in Colorado Mean?
The procedure for legal separation in Colorado is the same as the divorce process. The couple must file a petition first with the court. At least one party must meet Colorado’s residency requirement, which means living in the state for at least 91 days before filing for legal separation. Further, you’ve to wait for at least 90 days before the court acts on your case.
Your request for legal separation must include a legal reason or grounds for your petition. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state; this means courts don’t require either spouse to point fingers at the other party to prove their marriage is over. The same rule applies to a legal separation. Spouses can meet this requirement by telling a family law judge that their marriage is irretrievably broken and there’s no chance for reconciliation.
During the 90 days waiting period, the court hopes that the spouses will negotiate the terms for their separation. Both parties must agree to the terms of child custody, child support, and property division, however, if they can’t, the court will decide for them. Once a family law judge signs the separation agreement (court order), you and your spouse are free to live an independent life away from each other.
Often, life changes for both spouses and the legal separation ends once one spouse wants to remarry. In Colorado, it’s imperative to understand that neither spouse can ask the court to convert their separation into a divorce until at least six months after the court ordered the separation.
Colorado Laws About Legal Separation
According to the law, a legal separation doesn’t mean you’re single, but still separated spouses can date without breaking the bigamy laws. However, since your marriage is still intact during a legal separation, you can’t enter a new marriage or cohabit with a new partner before getting a divorce.
How Long Do You Have to be Separated Before Divorce in Colorado?
To get legally separated, you or your spouse must petition the court for Legal Separation and the judge then issues a decree to make it official. Later, the separation decree can be converted to a Decree of Dissolution(divorce) if either party requests it.
However, legally separated spouses have to wait for six months from the issuance of the separation decree before they can request the judge for conversion to a divorce. This means a couple has to stay legally separated and unable to remarry for six months before they can fully end their marriage.
However, the conversion to divorce is quicker because the separation decree is normally included in the divorce decree. Typically, courts issue the order in about a month. Sometimes, divorcing spouses have to change some terms in the separation decree before it’s converted into a divorce, but most conversions finalize with no delays.
What Should You Not Do During a Divorce?
The divorce process is emotional and vulnerable. Emotions run high and divorcing spouses often make poor decisions during divorce. Given the amount of financial, emotional, and practical details that have to be sorted out, it’s no wonder most couples wind up making critical mistakes on the road to divorce. However, there are many things you shouldn’t do during your divorce, these include:
- Moving out. A huge divorce misconception is that a spouse must move out of the marital home once a divorce case begins. Moving out from the marital residence is a huge mistake, and it can hurt your divorce case. If your name is on the lease or mortgage, you’re under no obligation to move out voluntarily. Moving out once the divorce proceeding starts is a bad idea, especially if you have children. Many uncontested divorce cases often turn sour and once this happens your ex can claim you abandoned your family. Besides, once you move out, a family law judge will assume that having regular access to your children and parenting isn’t a priority to you. This will affect your custody arrangement and may cause you to lose physical custody and visitation time.
- Forgetting to change your will. Getting a divorce doesn’t automatically revoke a will. If you don’t want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to receive the money and privileges you granted them in your will, you must update it as soon as possible.
- Forgetting about taxes. Usually, the person who is awarded custody of the children also gets the house. However, getting the house might not be the best deal. If you can’t afford to pay the mortgage, taxes, and upkeep on the house, then you should ask for an investment portfolio of equal value instead. However, before you start celebrating, remember, single people, aren’t allowed to shelter as much capital gains from taxes. Also, stocks can be an issue. You should go for newly purchased stocks because they will cost you less in capital gains taxes.
- Settling too early. Just because you want to get out of your marriage immediately, this doesn’t mean you should give up your financial security. Prepare multiple copies of all of your important financial documents, including tax forms, statements, credit card statements, brokerage and mutual fund statements, and other financial records. This will help you recognize what you own and even what you owe. Ensure that you and your kids continue to have health insurance during and after the divorce proceedings. Because while you’re still married to your spouse, an accident or illness can affect property division. If you and your spouse agree on your own file for an uncontested divorce. However, if it’s impossible, hire a professional mediator or Colorado Springs divorce lawyers. If you decide to hire a family law attorney, don’t forget to bring these three things to the first meeting with your lawyer so you can access what you’ll need once separated: an accounting sheet of your income, your tax return, and a balance sheet listing your family’s assets and debts.
- Increasing your debt. Divorce is costly. Apart from the attorney’s fees, you’ll need money to start a new household. Although it may be hard to make ends meet, get used to having less now. Remember, your court costs and legal bills may come due before you receive your first payment of spousal maintenance or even your share of the marital property. Even though it may seem stressful, your freedom down the line is worth the struggle.
Contact Our Experienced Colorado Divorce Attorneys Today!
We can be the helping hand you and your children need to make this process a smooth and successful one. Negotiating and navigating family law issues, such as child custody and child support, and advocating for fair distribution of property during a legal separation and after divorce can be complicated and may need extensive analysis.
The Colorado Springs family lawyers at Brighter Day℠ Law have extensive experience, knowledge, and compassion to make sure that you and your children’s interests are protected. To schedule a consultation, call us today at (719) 225-4443, or chat with us online.