How does a legal separation differ from divorce?
If you have reached the decision to end your relationship, you have the option of filing for divorce or, alternatively, you could consider a legal separation. In Michigan, legal separation is referred to as separate maintenance. With a legal separation, spouses can remain legally married, but you and your spouse will divide your life and property. Under some circumstances, a legal separation may offer the legal remedy you need to end your relationship without the need to terminate the marriage. Our Michigan legal separation lawyers at McGuigan Law, PLLC offer an overview of legal separation in the state below.
Reasons You May Want Separate Maintenance
For most people, when a marriage has ended, divorce is the automatic first thought. However, there are reasons that some people would want to stay married, but separate their lives. Separate maintenance may be desired due to religious reasons, uncertainty about final termination of the relationship, or to maintain insurance benefits for a family member. Anyone considering filing for separate maintenance should discuss this option with their family law attorney to ensure it is the best course of action for you.
Separate Maintenance Explained
Separate maintenance or legal separation is nearly identical to divorce, save for one fact—you are still married after it. In an action for separate maintenance, you will need to meet the same basic residency and ground requirements as in a divorce. Further, during the separation, you will divide your property, resolve issues of potential child or spousal support, and determine child custody.
Just as in a divorce, the court will divide your marital assets equitably in the separation action. Equitable means fair and not necessarily equal. You will be able to keep your separate assets. Equitable distribution will involve consideration for the amount of time you were together, any abuse or abandonment, and other critical factors concerning the marriage.
A legal separation is a complex procedure akin to divorce. If you are considering legal separation from your spouse, consult with a family law attorney in your area. Your attorney can assist you in achieving the best possible outcome for your separation or divorce.