No one wants their relationship to fall apart or their family to face the pain and misery of a separation or divorce. But, sometimes, it is the best option in the long run to best benefit everyone involved. If you’ve reached a point where you’re considering legal separation or divorce and need somewhere to study up on what option is going to be best for your family, this is the place to be.
What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
In many ways legal separation and divorce are inherently the same: a legal space is created between you and your spouse, your finances become solely yours again, you live in separate places. But the big difference is that your marriage remains intact unless you formally divorce, which then allows you to remarry.
To help you understand how divorce or separation will work in your situation, we put together some examples below.
When Religion is a Factor
For many people, divorce goes against their morals or religious teachings they were raised with. Legal separation allows for those who adhere to a religion that forbids divorce to live separate lives without crossing an ethical line. Legal separation keeps your marriage intact in the eyes of the law and the relationship continues in some facets but you’re free to keep your finances and homes completely separate. For many with a moral obligation to remain married, this is the most beneficial middle ground.
When You’re Working Through Things
One of the major benefits of a legal separation is that it is reversible while a divorce is final and can only be undone by remarrying your ex-spouse. Legal separation is an option for those who have not fully committed to a divorce and want time to work through relationship and familial problems personally with the protection of the law on their side. Sometimes it ultimately still leads to a divorce, but it gives more options to those who have not fully committed to ending their marriage permanently.
When Divorce is Imminent
Even if you know a divorce is the ultimate ending of your relationship, a legal separation can still be a beneficial initial step to take. During the separation you can work out separation of finances, property, and child custody before ultimately moving into divorce. It’s also a good option for those who want the situation to be less detrimental on their children and aren’t in a hurry to remarry right away. Divorce can come later when the family is emotionally ready to move forward.
Do I Need to Legally Separate Before Divorce?
In some states, you are required to undergo at least six months of separation before your divorce will be granted by a court. In other states, legal separation automatically becomes grounds for divorce if you remain separate for a certain period of time. You’ll need to check your state laws. Legal separation is not required in the state of Michigan and there are no legal proceedings surrounding it prior to divorce. You can file for separate maintenance and live separately with your marriage still intact.
How Do I File for Separation?
There are a couple different types of legal separation. In Michigan it is called separate maintenance and is handled just like a divorce. You can separate on your own by simply living in two different households and personally splitting property and finances as you see fit. A court-recognize legal separation allows a legal buffer and more protection. But, as mentioned, your ability to do this depends on your state of residence. The proceedings for separation and divorce are treated the same in Michigan.
Divorce and legal separation can be painful and complicated for your family. Knowing which path is the best for you will help you on your way to moving forward and on with your lives.
If you live in Michigan and are contemplating a divorce or legal separation the Family Law Offices of Rappleye & Rappleye can help. Settling divorce and family law conflicts for over 60 years we have the knowledge and experience to help guide you through your journey. We handle child custody, property division, visitation, child support and more. Call us for a consultation and get started on a new beginning for you and your family!