Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Michigan: Divorce v. Legal Separation

By: Kathryn M. Cushman

Under Michigan law, there is no such thing as "legal separation" in those specific terms. Instead, we have what is known as an action for separate maintenance.

The grounds for obtaining an Judgment of Separate Maintenance are the same as divorce. A party must allege that "there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the bonds of matrimony have been destroyed and there is no reason to believe that the marriage can be preserved." The process mirrors the divorce process in that the court will divide the marital estate and even determine custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support. However, a Judgment of Separate Maintenance will not end the marriage. This is the primary difference between separate maintenance and divorce. It will be necessary for the parties to get divorced if they want to remarry.

What are the reasons for wanting a Judgment of Separate Maintenance versus a divorce? There are limited reasons. Perhaps there are religious or moral reasons which would prevent one from wanting a divorce or health care reasons for why someone would want to stay legally married so that they can remain covered by their spouse's health insurance.

For answers to your specific questions regarding separate maintenance and/or divorce, contact us.

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