You’ve likely heard of legal separation but may have no idea what it would mean for you. While not every state recognizes legal separations, Michigan has its own version, which is called separate maintenance. When married couples no longer want to live together but are also hesitant to divorce, separate maintenance can help strike the right legal balance. To explore your best options in relation to legal separation, consult with an experienced Southeast Michigan family law attorney today.
When a married person wants to separate from their spouse but doesn’t want to officially end the marriage with a divorce, filing a separate maintenance complaint is the option available. With separate maintenance, each of the terms of divorce that applies can be addressed, including all the following:
- The division of marital property and debt
- Child custody arrangements
- Child support
- Alimony or spousal support
What Separate Maintenance Will Mean for You
It’s important to understand that separate maintenance is a legal process that is separate from divorce. While a legal separation is generally a less costly and less time-consuming process than divorce, it doesn’t lead directly to divorce.
If you do ultimately decide to pursue a divorce, it’s a separate legal matter. This means that pursuing a legal separation can drag out the divorce process – as well as make it more expensive. It should also be noted, however, that legal separation affords some couples the space they need to rebuild their marriages.
Pursuing another Romantic Relationship
Once your legal separation is established, you can enter a romantic relationship with someone other than your spouse without being in violation of Michigan’s adultery laws. Adultery can play a role in the division of marital assets in a Michigan divorce, but if you were legally separated at the time, this isn’t the case.
When a woman who is legally separated in Michigan has a child, however, the state presumes that the husband whom she’s separated from is the father – even when they aren’t. This can become a legal complication of its own and is worth considering in relation to legal separation.
Protecting Your Finances
If you and your spouse choose to live your separate lives without obtaining a legal separation in Michigan, the assets and the debts that either of you acquires are considered marital and will need to be divided between you fairly in the event of divorce, which generally means split down the middle. If you obtain separate maintenance, however, each spouse’s financials from the date of legal separation will be considered separate.
Turn to an Experienced Southeast Michigan Family Law Attorney for the Help You Need
Determining whether a legal separation or divorce is the right step for you in your unique circumstances can be challenging, but the trusted Southeast Michigan family law attorneys at Harris & Literski have the legal skill and insight to help. Addressing your concerns and legal priorities is key, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at 810-202-9859 for more information about what we can do to help you today.