Ann Arbor Legal Separation Lawyers

Michigan Separate Maintenance Agreements & Legal Separation

In Michigan, separate maintenance cases are very rare. Most separating couples don’t understand what all is involved in a separate maintenance agreement, and just how similar it is to an actual divorce. Ann Arbor Legal Separation Lawyer Wendy Alton strives to educate clients on the details of separate maintenance agreements and their long-term consequences.

Separate Maintenance Is Similar to Divorce

Many couples think of legal separation as something entirely different from divorce—a way to live separately while remaining married. In Michigan, the formal legal term is “separate maintenance” and the process is very similar to divorce.

For separate maintenance, you have to go through all the same legal steps you would go through if you were getting a divorce, such as custody, parenting time, child/spousal support, property and debt division, and plans for future ramifications/long-term consequences if things change. However, when the case is over and finalized, you are still married.

Both Parties Must Agree to Separate Maintenance

In order for a case to remain a separate maintenance case, both parties must commit to it. If one party files for separate maintenance but the other party wants to divorce, then the other party would state that on their counterclaim and the case would automatically convert to a divorce case.

Separate Maintenance for Religious Reasons or Health Benefits

There are a few reasons why some couples choose to pursue a judgment of separate maintenance. One is for religious reasons, such as if they are Catholic and divorce is against their religion. Another is to stay on one spouse’s health insurance or to retain their military benefits. However, some insurers and benefit providers see a separate maintenance agreement as a trigger to terminate benefits. It’s important to discuss the facts with your attorney before you make the decision to pursue a separate maintenance agreement.

Agree to Disagree without a Divorce Decree

If a couple cannot agree on how to divide assets, debts, parenting time or child/spousal support, then a judge will impose a decision. But the judge will not issue a divorce decree. The spouses remain legally married and are not free to remarry until they get a divorce.

Contact Our Ann Arbor Legal Separation Lawyers

If you and your spouse think a separate maintenance agreement would be in your best interests, then contact Ann Arbor Divorce Attorney Wendy Alton for more information. Call 734-673-3567 or complete the online form to request a complimentary consultation.