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Choosing Divorce or Separation in Michigan? Here's How to Start Weighing the Factors

If your marriage has gone bad, divorce is an understandable way to move forward. It allows you the chance to start over, after the property has been divided up and custody arrangements resolved for any minor children you may have.

In some cases, however, an intermediate arrangement sometimes called legal separation may make sense. As experienced Farmington Hills divorce attorneys, we know that whether separation is the right fit for you depends on your unique circumstances.

In Michigan, a legal separation isn't required before you get a divorce. In fact, Michigan law does not have a separate status called "legal separation." But there are actions that you can take to recognize the formality of arrangements that go with separation.

The best example of this is when you and your spouse agree to split up and agree upon something called a judgment of separate maintenance. Though this agreement stops short of outright divorce, it enables you and your former partner to divide up debts and assets. It can also be used to formalize child custody and financial support obligations.

As with a divorce order, a court must approve a judgment of separate maintenance in order for it to take full effect. This option may therefore not be any quicker, easier, or less expensive than a divorce.

Nonetheless, there can be very good reasons to choose separation rather than divorce as your next step. Factors involved in the decision can include:

•· Religious beliefs about divorce

•· Health insurance benefits under one spouse's policy

•· Tax benefits of joint income tax filing

•· Social Security benefits in marriages that last at least 10 years

Which of these factors is most important for you depends on your goals, values, and specific situation.

Source: "Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially," Forbes, 1-10-12

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