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Legal Separation vs. Divorce

During a legal separation, a court order mandates the rights and duties of a couple while they are married, but living apart. Legal separations can be helpful for certain situations, such as allowing spouses time to work through financial or personal issues that are affecting the marriage. Some couples, however, decide to get a divorce after the period of legal separation ends. The question now arises if the process of getting a divorce is any different, and typically, it is. 

There would still be a 60 day minimum waiting period between the filing of the divorce and entry of a divorce judgment. However, cases with children where that waiting period is normally 6 months, a Judgment of Separate Maintenance should, but won’t necessarily, provide grounds for the divorce judge to expedite the process. More importantly, a properly drafted Judgment of Separate Maintenance will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, any disputes over all issues between the parties, as those would have been resolved in the Judgment of Separate Maintenance and binding upon the parties in the divorce. Issues of custody, parenting time, and support of minor children are always subject to division upon a showing of a change of circumstances, but the Judgment of Separate Maintenance would provide guidance for the court on these issues and normally would be enforced. Division of assets and debt as set forth in the Judgment of Separate Maintenance would be incorporated by reference in the divorce action.

In Michigan, a court will divide the assets equitably, which means fair, though not necessarily equal, distribution. Factors the court considers when it comes to equitable distribution include the value of each spouse's separate property, duration of marriage, the parties’ income, and conduct during the marriage (abuse, abandonment, etc.) and other relevant circumstances, especially if one spouse will have custody of minor children.

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified family law attorneys for divorce, child custody, and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to provide leading divorce attorney services for men.

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