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Should separate property be addressed in legal separation?

It is not uncommon for couples who experience marital problems to choose to spend time apart to evaluate their feelings rather than to rush into a divorce. However, one spouse moving out and living apart does not make a separation legal, and separate property will not be protected. There are legal requirements, and couples may want to draw up a separation agreement to present to the Colorado court for signature and legalizing the separation.

Both spouses may want to protect their interests and assets during this time. Each spouse should have legal representation during the drafting of a separation agreement and may also choose to have a financial representative to address issues such as retirement benefits and pension accounts. Once the agreement is finalized, the attorneys will apply to have it signed by a judge. This agreement will be legally binding in the event of one spouse failing to honor it.

When the separation agreement is drafted, both spouses may want to keep in mind that the separation may last a significant time, and it may even end in divorce. With this in mind, they may want to address particular issues. The name of the spouse who moves out should be removed from the rental agreement, to avoid being held accountable when the other spouse defaults on rental payments. A legal separation does not affect federal and state taxes, so both spouses may want to ensure that all documentation and tax returns are in safe storage. Some health insurance contracts state that coverage will lapse in the event of legal separation, so contracts should be checked and addressed if this is the case.

If the separation leads to an eventual divorce, property will be divided, and couples may want to protect their assets. If separate property is not specified in a prenuptial agreement, it may be a good idea to have all property claims detailed in the separation agreement. Retaining a Colorado divorce attorney may assist in ensuring the legality of the documents. The experience of the lawyer may also ensure that all aspects are covered and assets are protected.

Source: divorcesupport.about.com, "What Is a Legal Separation?", Cathy Meyer, Accessed on Jan. 29, 2015

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