Legal Separation in Michigan

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Legal separation in Michigan is acquired through a process called the 'Judgment of Separate Maintenance'. The process for the separate maintenance is same as the divorce process. At the end, the couple still remains married and cannot remarry until they get a divorce by filing a separate petition.

Judgment of Separate Maintenance in Michigan:

The couple can file for judgment of separate maintenance under one ground; i.e. the marriage being irretrievably broken. They have to use the specific words. These words are: "There has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved."

Once this reason has been cited, the court orders the couple to reach the settlement regarding the distribution of assets and responsibilities, sharing of the debts, deciding the child and spousal support and custody and visitation rights, etc. After these decisions are taken, a judgment of separate maintenance is signed and the couple is officially and legally separated.

If the couple eventually decides to get a divorce, they have to file a separate plea requesting a divorce.

Legal separation can be granted only if both the spouses agree to it. Either of the spouses have a right to file a divorce plea instead of separation. The petitioner files for legal separation and the respondent can either deny or accept the claim of the marriage being irretrievably broken or file a counter-claim for divorce.

Michigan Separate Maintenance Agreement:

After the petitioner files the separation plea and the respondent files a response, the court orders the couple to reach a settlement through discussions and talks with each other. If they are unable to reach a mutual agreement, the court provides mediator so that an agreement can be prepared. The agreement consists of the decisions regarding the property division, distribution of the assets and responsibilities.

All the issues that can lead to complexities and conflicts are addressed and decisions are made so that both the parties are satisfied. The agreement should be made in the presence of professional legal attorneys so as to avoid any contradictions with the state laws. The settlement of the issues is done same as the divorce proceedings and it is legally binding to both the partners.

When the agreement is signed by both the partners, it is indicted into the judgment of separate maintenance and the spouses are supposed to follow it strictly. The main advantage of preparing a Michigan Marital Settlement Agreement is that all the issues addressed are put down in writing and is prepared in presence of legal attorneys so that none of the parties can challenge the arrangements when the case goes to the court for proceedings. Putting the arrangements in writing helps protect the best interests of both he parties so that none of them ends up paying more or getting less than they actually deserve.

Personal Protection Order:

In cases where there is bitterness and conflicts between the spouses, the court can order a spouse to steer clear of the other spouse. These orders include the prohibition to enter the family or marital home, contact the petitioner, remove the children from the care of the custodial parent or to interfere with the daily life of the petitioner.

The personal protection order is given by the court in cases of physical abuse, substance abuse, conviction of felony or fraud, incarceration to prison or mental health institute etc.

Family Support Act:

According to the family support act, the court enforces the payments from one spouse such as child support, alimony and bear other necessary expenses of the dependent spouse. This enforcement is carried out in the form of a court order.

Thus, a legal separation in Michigan is usually a mutual agreement of the spouses regarding the parenting plan, childcare, financial arrangements, etc. The court encourages them to reach an agreement where they get to decide the fate of their family home, real estate, other property and their children. If they are not able to arrive at a fair settlement agreement, the court interferes and provide mediator services so as to decide about all the important marital issues.

As Michigan is an equitable distribution state, if court interferes in the property division, it distributes the property between the two parties as it feels is fair and equitable distribution of the assets as well as investments and the responsibilities.

When the court passes an order regarding the responsibility of the certain debts, possession of specific assets and other marital issues, the order is binding on both the parties.

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