Legal Separations With Mediators in Colorado

by Heather Frances Google
A mediator may help you understand your spouse's point of view.

A mediator may help you understand your spouse's point of view.

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Colorado allows spouses to legally separate instead of divorcing, and spouses have the option to reach agreement on the terms of their separation. To reach agreement, you and your spouse can seek the assistance of a mediator to help you identify and resolve your separation issues. Then, you can use an online legal document service to prepare and file your separation paperwork.

Legal Separation Process

Colorado’s legal separation process is nearly identical to Colorado’s divorce process, though a legal separation does not actually dissolve your marriage. Both processes require a decree to finalize all child custody and financial issues, so if you can’t reach agreement on all these issues, the court will decide for you. Once you obtain your decree of legal separation and six months have passed, you can convert the legal separation into a divorce. Typically, Colorado courts adopt the same terms for the divorce that applied to the legal separation.

Separation Decree

Once the court signs and issues a decree of legal separation, your taxpayer status changes to individual, but you are not free to remarry since your marriage remains intact. Because you are still technically married, you may remain eligible for certain benefits that are based on your marital status, such as health insurance or military benefits. Thus, you may wish to address these benefits in your mediation sessions to ensure you know how to access these benefits during your separation.

Separation Agreements

To avoid a court making the decisions for you, your separation agreement must fully resolve all issues in your separation, including property division, responsibility for paying debts and child custody. A mediator can help you and your spouse discuss all these terms and reach agreement. Commonly, spouses benefit from help in developing a parenting plan that works for both of them. Mediators can also help you identify other issues you may not have thought of, such as life insurance payments and beneficiary designations. When you reach agreement, your mediator can put the agreement into a memorandum that a Colorado court will recognize as your separation agreement.

Mediation Process

Mediators usually meet with both spouses together, although separate meetings, called caucuses, may be necessary if things get difficult. If either party doesn't want to meet together, you may still reach agreement through separate meetings with the mediator. If you and your spouse cannot meet together because one or both of you are out of state, remote mediation by conference call is possible, though it may take a bit longer to coordinate the transfer of documents and information.