If spouses no longer wish to continue to be together, they can choose between legally separating or getting a divorce. Michigan allows couples to separate but have their marriage still intact, and if they decide to choose this option, they must file for separate maintenance, while those who no longer wish to be married file for a divorce. While the terms and outcomes are different, the procedures are actually almost the same.
When a couple files a divorce, either spouse can file for it if they fulfill the residency requirement. The residency requirement is that one spouse has to live in Michigan for a minimum of 180 days. Since Michigan is a “no-fault” state, a spouse can file a divorce as long as it includes no possibility of resolution between the two.
For separate maintenance, the filing requirements are the same for a divorce, meaning they must fulfill the residency requirement. Spouses must go through the rest of the procedures regarding child support/custody and division of property the same way as those who want a divorce. The main difference is that the marriage remains intact while the couple still separates. Because their marriage is intact, the other spouse can still receive healthcare. Another reason spouses want their marriage upheld is because of immigration issues or religious beliefs. Since spouses are still married by law, they are allowed to file tax returns together as well, while when so-called “benefits of marriage” are dissolved through a divorce.
Because divorce and separate maintenance are very similar, the process of equitable distribution and child support are the same. The court will still divide assets acquired during marriage as they deem to be fair. When it comes to their children, the court will determine custody as what they feel is in the best interest of the child. The court will decide which parent has the better ability to care for the child, which includes providing a stable household and education. The parent who does not receive custody of the child will still need to pay child support.
I know that, regardless of marital problems, each spouse cares deeply for their children, and as a child custody lawyer, I can provide honest legal assistance. I can also help you navigate through the child custody, divorce or legal separation process as an experienced family law attorney. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.