Legal Separation in Michigan

I often get phone calls from people asking what is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce? For many people it does not make sense to get a legal separation. A separation simply means to live a part from your spouse. You do not need to file court papers to separate. The law does not require you to live with your spouse. However, separating from your spouse may affect your legal rights.

Some couples choose legal separation because of religious beliefs or moral values against divorce. In a few cases, there may be insurance or other financial reasons for a legal separation.

If you do separate, you will need to arrange for the care of the children, financial support, and payment of bills. A mediator or lawyer can help you and your spouse reach an agreement. A lawyer can advise you on your legal options, if an informal agreement is not possible.

“Legal Separation” is a major change in the status of your marriage. To get a legal separation you must serve and file a Complaint in the Circuit Court in the county where you or your spouse lives. It is not a different process from the divorce process. In Michigan, you do not have to be separated before you get divorced. The process to get a legal separation takes just as long as a divorce, and may cost as much or more than a divorce.

In many ways, a legal separation is the same as a divorce. Both include custody, parenting time, child support, and, if appropriate, spousal maintenance (alimony) orders. The parties can also ask the judge to issue an order that divides the parties’ assets and debts.

The major difference is that if you have a legal separation, you are still married. If you decide you want to end your marriage after a legal separation is complete, you will then need to go through the court process again to get divorced.

If you are having a tough time with your marriage and you have questions about divorce please feel free to contact at Allan W. Ben P.C. for a free consultation. You can contact our office at or 248-540-0677 . We handle divorce cases in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Washtinaw County and Livingston County. We will aggressively handle your divorce case.