When people decide they no longer wish to live together, they may not be quite ready for the finality of divorce. Legal separation is a way for them to live apart while outlining in specific, legally-binding terms the financial parameters to which they will adhere. Whether they decide to reconcile or divorce, a legal separation in Colorado can detail separate property, how debt is divided and custody of children, if applicable. The financial benefits to legal separation over divorce make it the best choice for many people.
One of the most obvious reasons that people may choose to stay legally married is in order to file a joint tax return. There can be certain financial benefits to doing so that some may not be ready to let go of. In a similar vein, some spouses obtain a legal separation so that one of them may continue to use the other's health insurance. However, some employers will consider a legal separation to be on the same level as a traditional divorce and thus refuse to provide benefits to the spouse.
Some people choose legal separation because they have not been married for 10 years. This would mean that they cannot claim Social Security benefits through the other spouse's work record. The laws around Social Security can be tricky, so no matter what a couple decides, it is important that they are both well-aware of any restrictions. It is also possible to continue using a spouse's military benefits when a couple files for legal separation.
These reasons won't make legal separation right for everyone. Here in Colorado, it can be a good option for those who need the time to carefully consider the financial implications that can accompany divorce. Having separate property and a legal separation agreement may make the transition into divorce much easier if that is the desired result.
Source: Forbes, "Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?", Jeff Landers, Oct. 12, 2014