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Does Michigan Recognize Legal Separation?

Does Michigan Recognize Legal Separation?

Ending a marriage doesn’t always mean divorce. Depending on your circumstances, you may have an interest in exploring alternatives to divorce, legal separation being one of them. However, every state’s laws differ on divorce alternatives, and not all states recognize legal separation.

When you’re interested in discussing your options, seek qualified advice from a Michigan divorce lawyer. An attorney can review the details of your situation and offer personalized resolutions.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is one of the most popular alternatives to divorce. When a couple legally separated, they live apart and live two separate lives. However, they remain married in the eyes of the law.

This type of arrangement can be mutually agreed upon by both spouses, but it is best to get a court order for it to be legally recognized. When you request a legal separation from the court, they’ll divide your property and debts, allowing you and your spouse to ease into separating your lives.

It is important to note that not every state recognizes legal separation. In fact, very few do.

Is Legal Separation Allowed Under Michigan Law?

Michigan law does not recognize legal separation. While you are still free to separate from your spouse and live totally different lives, you remain tied together under your marriage. 

If you live in Michigan and wish to separate from your spouse but not file for divorce, it’s best to speak with a divorce lawyer. An attorney understands local law and can give you other viable options that may work for you.

Separate Maintenance in Michigan

While Michigan does not allow for legal separation per se, there is an alternative called “separate maintenance.” This is essentially Michigan’s version of legal separation.

When you file for separate maintenance, you’re asking the court to help you resolve divorce-like matters, like property distribution, so you and your spouse can separate. To file for separate maintenance, you’ll need to meet the same requirements for divorce, including the residency requirements, and list your legal grounds 

The other spouse, the responding party, can either agree to the request for separate maintenance or ask for a divorce. If either party asks for a divorce, the separate maintenance request will be denied and proceed with the divorce process.

Michigan law imposes a waiting period before a judge will take action on your request. The waiting period is 30 days for couples without children and 180 days for couples who share kids. During this “cooling off” period, you can try to work with your spouse to tackle certain matters, like property and asset division and child custody.

If you and your spouse can agree on these critical matters, you can file a written agreement to the judge so they can approve or deny it. If certain issues still need to be addressed, the court can decide them for you.

After your separate maintenance case is resolved, you can remain this way as long as you and your spouse would like. However, if either party later decides they do want to proceed with a formal divorce, the process could take a while since you’ll need to start the divorce process from square one. Alternatively, if you choose to get back together, you can revoke the separate maintenance order at any time.

Discuss Your Concerns with a Michigan Divorce Attorney

Divorce may not be for you – whether now or ever. If this is the case, schedule a consultation with our divorce lawyer at Selleck Legal, PLLC, to go over options. We look forward to assisting you.

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