While there is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Michigan, couples seeking to legally separate yet remain married can do so by filing an Action for Separate Maintenance. An Action for Separate Maintenance is a legally recognized proceeding under Michigan law and follows the same procedure as a Divorce: a Complaint for Separate Maintenance is filed with the circuit court; marital issues including property, child custody, child support and spousal support are addressed; and once these martial issues are settled, a Judgment for Separate Maintenance is entered.
Often times, parties settle their marital issues ahead of time through a Settlement Agreement, which can then be incorporated into the Judgment of Separate Maintenance. A couple can freely enter into a Settlement Agreement to divide their property as they see fit, and the court will not redraft the agreement or rule in a manner that allows either party to avoid his or her contractual obligations. Although you are still legally married, a Judgment of Separate Maintenance is legally enforceable pursuant to Michigan Statutes, Michigan Court Rules, and Michigan Case Law.
Reasons for filing an Action for Separate Maintenance vary. Couples may choose Separate Maintenance over a Divorce for religious, tax, immigration or insurance reasons. Keep in mind, however, that many employers and insurance companies now consider an action for separate maintenance the same as a divorce and may terminate benefits accordingly.
Contact me at (248) 647-7900 to discuss your individual situation and whether an Action for Separate Maintenance may be right for you.