Legal Separation

Legal Separation in Michigan


The concept of legal separation in Michigan can be very confusing. There is no true action in the State of Michigan entitled “Legal Separation.” The closest concept in the State of Michigan to “Legal Separation” that is still legally enforceable in court, is known as “Separate Maintenance.” The decision to file for Divorce or Separate Maintenance is extremely difficult and there are many issues to consider. The attorneys as Gordon & Hess, PLC can help evaluate your particular set of circumstances and devise a list of pros and cons to consider before reaching a conclusion. Some of the reasons for Separate Maintenance may include the following:

  • Religious or moral beliefs prohibit or disapprove of divorce.
  • Family is in a state of transition and parties may need “space” that is structured and enforceable, while they reflect upon repairing or dissolving their marriage.
  • One party may need to keep the health or medical insurance currently provided by their spouse that would otherwise be lost with the entry of a Judgment of Divorce.

For all practical purposes the legal proceeding of “Separate Maintenance” is identical to a regular divorce proceeding. However, in the end, whether there is an agreement between the parties or a trial before the Court the parties’ marriage is not dissolved but remains intact. Although the parties are still considered legally married all marital issues can be resolved in a Judgment of Separate Maintenance including custody, parenting time/visitation, child support, property division of assets and debt, spousal support, attorney fees, etc. Sometimes a party wishes to file for separate maintenance when they are still unsure if they truly want to be divorced from their spouse. Once a complaint for separate maintenance is filed either party reserves the right to file for divorce and convert the matter to a divorce proceeding rather than a separate maintenance proceeding. Once this occurs the only way the matter can be dismissed or converted back to a separate maintenance matter is by agreement of both parties and approval of the Court. There are many other caveats to consider with a complaint for separate maintenance. It is essential that all documents are meticulously prepared by an attorney with experience in handling such actions.  

Experienced Lawyers in Grand Rapids


The attorneys at Gordon & Hess, PLC are experienced with divorce proceedings and separate maintenance proceedings and can help you understand the differences between them and which proceeding would be best for your particular set of circumstances. Please contact Gordon & Hess, PLC now and schedule a free ½ hour confidential consultation to meet face to face and discuss whether a legal separation through a separate maintenance action is in your best interest.  

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