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What is the difference between divorce and legal separation in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Divorce

Do you want to end your relationship with your spouse but don’t want a divorce? Maybe it’s for religious reasons, or maybe you don’t want a final act in case there is hope for a reunion in the future. As a Michigan resident, you should know that there is an opportunity that may meet your needs.

Legal separation might be the alternative to divorce that you’re looking for. In Michigan, this legal action is called separate maintenance.

What is separate maintenance?

This is a legal action in which a married couple can divide debt and property, award spousal support and decide custody, child support and parenting time. Legal separation is similar to divorce except for the fact that at the end of the legal action, the couple stays married.

If you get legally separated, you cannot remarry unless you decide to get a divorce. You should also know that if you file a complaint for separate maintenance, your spouse can file a counterclaim for divorce. In this case, the court has to treat your case as a divorce.

Also, once you get a final judgment after finishing a separate maintenance action, you cannot change the terms, which may encompass property division, custody, spousal support and parenting time if you decide to file for divorce. The terms of your divorce will be worked out separately. What’s more, you would need to start a new divorce case to convert separate maintenance into a divorce.

What is a divorce in the Wolverine State?

Divorce, officially known as “dissolution of marriage,” is a legal termination of a marital union. The Wolverine State is a no-fault divorce state, implying that you don’t have to prove fault or blame for the dissolution of the marriage. Irreconcilable differences are a sufficient reason for allowing spouses to part ways amicably.

The distinction between divorce and legal separation lies in the finality of the marital relationship. Whether pursuing a divorce or legal separation, seeking legal help can streamline and expedite the process.