Should I get a Legal Separation?
In Michigan, legal separation is referred to as “Separate Maintenance”. A separate maintenance agreement is not appropriate for every situation. You can physically separate on your own without any legal intervention. However, if you want to ensure that certain protections such as bills getting paid or that you receive support for you and your children, you will need to have the involvement of the Family Court.
Separate maintenance is an action that is very similar to divorce so it is not cost effective if you plan on ultimately obtaining a divorce. In a separate maintenance action, all of the same things are done that occur in a divorce case: determination of spousal support; resolving the children issues; division of property and debt. Also, if an action for separate maintenance is filed in Michigan and the opposing party files a counterclaim for divorce in the action, the divorce will automatically be granted by the court.
Separate maintenance is appropriate in situations where the parties want to try to live separately while they attempt to work on saving their marriage or try to figure out if they even want to reconcile. The most common situation for utilizing separate maintenance is with elderly, sick, or unemployed spouses with a pre-existing health condition, who cannot afford to lose their health insurance and need to stay on the employed spouse’s health care plan. In certain situations, it may also be beneficial to a party who is contributing most of the financial support for the family, to file taxes jointly, which can be done under a separate maintenance, but not once you are divorced. Often there are religious reasons why people choose separate maintenance as it will bring peace to their lives and an end to the marital turmoil without actually getting divorced.
If you’ve contemplating legal separation or divorce, start by being an advocate for yourself. Our family law and divorce attorneys are here to help you. Call and speak with one of our attorneys.
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