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What Is the Difference Between a Legal Separation and Divorce?

Separation Attorney

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.  

Can Spouses Opt Out of Child Support?

When a divorce involves children, child support usually enters the equation. However, if you and your soon to be ex spouse are both stable, you may be wondering if you and/or your ex can opt out of child support. This means that...

How Is Child Custody Determined?

Custody is often one of the most contentious parts of any divorce, so it’s no mystery why so many people need help from a child custody lawyer. The attorney will act as both a mediator and a negotiator, with the goal of obtaining the full...

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

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How Is Property Divided in a Divorce?

In Michigan, divorce courts distribute the marital assets in a manner they feel is fair. Unlike judges in many other states, Michigan judges are not bound by strict guidelines or formulas when making these decisions. They determine which...

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

When we think of divorce, we often think of a long, drawn out battle that’s laden with contention, jealousy, and greed. However, that’s frequently not the case. Often, two people come to a peaceful realization that their marriage...

What Does It Take to Overturn a Custody Decision?

After a divorce, it is fairly difficult when the court doesn’t rule in your favor because at that point in time, there really is nothing more you can do but follow the orders. However, after the ruling, you have the chance to convince...

What Is a Legal Annulment?

Are you wondering whether your marriage is actually valid? Legal annulment declares that marriage never existed but this can only happen in certain situations. Since it is a civil court process, it can be just as long as a divorce and should...
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