Conversion of a Legal Separation into Divorce

Once six months have passed since receipt of the decree of legal separation from a Colorado court, you can follow a simple process to have this decree converted into one of dissolution of marriage using a relatively simple process. Once this is approved by a judge, you and your spouse will be officially divorced, and the terms of the separation decree become the terms of your divorce. After your decree is converted, you will be legally able to remarry as your marriage is officially terminated in the eyes of the law.

Getting advice from a Colorado family attorney for this process is usually helpful, especially if you are not familiar with or don’t have the time to prepare all the forms. Your forms for conversion need to be completed properly and all the court’s requirements must be met for you to convert your decree. If you make mistakes on the forms, you may need to start the process all over again. In some cases, errors on the form could cost you, particularly if you make any mistakes on the new decree.

 

Required forms

Three forms are required to have your legal separation decree converted into a divorce decree: Motion to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution, Order to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution, and the Decree of Dissolution itself.

The motion form must include the date you received your legal separation decree, a declaration that at least six months have gone by since that date, and an affirmation that you gave your spouse notice of your intent to convert the decree in a way that meets the court’s requirements for such notice. If desired, you may also request to restore your former name, or you may keep your married name.

On the order, you only need to complete the top section, where the names and case number go. The rest of this form will be completed by the judge. This is the order that will make the provisions of your legal separation the terms of your divorce as well, including the decisions previously made on property and debt division, the parenting plan, child support and spousal support.

Lastly, the decree of dissolution is the third form you’ll need. This decree needs to be done in a way that is consistent with your current decree of legal separation as that has already been approved by the court and presumably has the terms you’ll want for your divorce. If you want to go back to a former name, that will be included on this form as well. If you are changing your name back, you may want to get certified copies of this decree once it is approved by the court as it will act as proof of your legal name change.

After all the forms are completed, they need to be submitted to the court with the proper filing fees. At this point, the forms will be reviewed by the magistrate or judge. Once he or she signs the order and enters it officially, your decree will become one of dissolution of marriage. This signed order is then sent to both parties. You will want to keep certified copies of this order for your records.

 

What to consider before conversion

Converting your legal separation decree into a divorce decree means that your separation terms are going to be what is used in your divorce as well. If these terms are not working, you will not want to convert the decree as is because those same terms will apply in the divorce. Review your separation decree to confirm it is going to work as your divorce decree before filing for the conversion with the court. While decrees can be modified after they have been issued by the court, it is still another process you would have to go through, and you also have to be able to demonstrate that some significant change has occurred to warrant the modification if you and your spouse are not in agreement regarding the changes.

If you believe some material changes need to be made to your separation decree before it can be used as a basis for the final divorce, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney first. This is especially true if you and your spouse can’t agree on the changes.

Converting a legal separation decree into one of divorce is a simple process as long as the decree’s terms are still acceptable to both parties. Follow all the requirements set by the court for conversion and consult an experienced and aggressive attorney at The Burnham Law Firm if you are ready to end the separation and get divorced.