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How a separation can impact the property division process

For some couples, a period of separation is an option that can help both parties make it through a rough patch in their relationship. In fact, many couples who go through a separation are able to emerge with a stronger bond and have long and happy marriages. For older Colorado residents, a separation can lead to problems, especially in regard to property division.

For one thing, one or both spouses can rack up heavy debt during an extended separation. If the marriage should move toward divorce, deciding which party should be responsible for what debts can be problematic and a major course of contention. A large part of the property division process focuses on dividing debt, and when that debt was incurred while the parties were living separately, it can be difficult to reach an agreement on a fair division.

Another issue lies in estate planning. Some couples go into a separation intending for the process to be brief. Over time, however, they become complacent and accustomed to living separate lives without having to go through the actual divorce process. Things may go on this way for many years, but when one spouse falls ill, the other may still be the party who is tasked with making his or her medical and financial decisions. That can lead to a number of unintended consequences.

For those in Colorado who are considering a period of separation, a wise course of action is to work with a family law attorney to draft a formal separation agreement. Having this document in place serves to determine the date on which the separation started. It can also outline the terms for the separation and what is expected of each party. In the event that the marriage ends in divorce, having this document in place can help make the property division process easier to manage.

Source:, "Your Money: Older couples ponder financial impact of divorce", Beth Pinsker, April 26, 2017

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