Legal Separation
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Understanding Legal Separation In Michigan

The concept of legal separation in Michigan is confusing to many people. There is no true action in the state of Michigan entitled “legal separation.” The closest concept in the state of Michigan to “legal separation” that is still legally enforceable in court, is known as “separate maintenance.” The decision to file for divorce or separate maintenance is extremely difficult and there are many issues to consider.

Let Us Help You Determine If Legal Separation Is Right For You

At Gordon & Hess, PLC, we can help evaluate your particular set of circumstances and devise a list of pros and cons to consider before reaching a conclusion. Some of the reasons for separate maintenance may include the following:

  • Religious or moral beliefs prohibit or disapprove of divorce.
  • Family is in a state of transition and parties may need “space” that is structured and enforceable, while they reflect upon repairing or dissolving their marriage.
  • One party may need to keep the health or medical insurance currently provided by their spouse that would otherwise be lost with the entry of a judgment of divorce.

For all practical purposes the legal proceeding of “separate maintenance” is identical to a regular divorce proceeding

However, whether there is an agreement between the parties or a trial before the court, the parties’ marriage is not dissolved but remains intact. Although the parties are still considered legally married all marital issues can be resolved in a judgment of separate maintenance including custody, parenting time/visitation, child support, property division of assets and debts, spousal support, attorney fees, etc. Sometimes, a party wishes to file for separate maintenance when they are still unsure if they truly want to be divorced from their spouse.

Once a complaint for separate maintenance is filed, either party reserves the right to file for divorce and convert the matter to a divorce proceeding rather than a separate maintenance proceeding. When this occurs the only way the matter can be dismissed or converted back to a separate maintenance matter is by agreement of both parties and approval of the court. There are many other caveats to consider with a complaint for separate maintenance. It is essential that all documents are meticulously prepared by an attorney with experience in handling such actions.

Contact Attorneys Who Provide Meticulous Attention To Detail

Our attorneys at Gordon & Hess, PLC, are experienced with all matters related to family law, divorce proceedings and separate maintenance proceedings. We can help you understand the differences between them and which proceeding would be best for your particular set of circumstances. Email us or call 616-369-7452 to schedule a consultation to discuss whether a legal separation through a separate maintenance action is in your best interest.