Family Law Is All We Do

Legal Separation in Michigan

As a Michigan divorce law office, we are frequently asked about a "legal separation".

  • In the State of Michigan we do not have anything that is specifically called a legal separation where you file a paper and you are immediately legally separated.
  • You are not required to be separated to file for a Michigan divorce.

Do I have to be legally separated to get a divorce in Michigan?

  • You are NOT required to be legally separated in Michigan prior to filing for a divorce, or prior to the entry of the final Judgment of Divorce in Michigan.
  • Michigan law does provide for a Separate Maintenance Action, which is the action many people think of, when they are thinking about a legal separation in Michigan.

What is a separate maintenance action in Michigan?

A "Separate Maintenance" action is basically what most people think of when they mean a legal separation in Michigan.

  • The procedure for obtaining a Judgment of Separate Maintenance in Michigan is practically the same as the procedure for a divorce (see our divorce page), but when a Judgment of Separate Maintenance is entered you are divorced from everything except the bounds of matrimony.
  • If you have a Judgment of Separate Maintenance in Michigan rather than a Judgment of Divorce, you cannot remarry.
  • If you receive a Judgment of Separate Maintenance in Michigan and then late decide you do want a divorce, you will need to start a new case for a divorce.
  • Generally the terms of your Judgment of Separate Maintenance will be transferred into the new Judgment of Divorce.

Why would I want a Separate Maintenance Judgment rather than a Judgment of Divorce?

In the State of Michigan, most people who decided to pursue a Judgment of Separate Maintenance, rather than a Michigan Divorce, do so for religious, health care or immigration reasons. 

    • For example, in certain circumstances one may be ex-communicated from their church if they were to divorce, so they may choose use the Separate Maintenance procedure instead of a Michigan Divorce.  
    • Another example is if one has health concerns and requires continuing medical insurance, but if they divorced their insurance would terminate, they may use the Separate Maintenance procedure to be able to continue on their spouse’s health insurance.  
    • Although, it is becoming more frequent that employers are considering a Separate Maintenance Judgment to have the same terminating effect as a Michigan Divorce with respect to health care benefits.
    • There may be an immigration situation where one spouse has brought the other spouse to the United States and the second spouse's status in the United States is dependent upon being married to the first spouse.

Paynter & Associates

Main Office

7071 Orchard Lake Road

Suite 245

West Bloomfield, Michigan 48322

Satellite Office

100 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 200

Troy, Michigan 48084


Phone 248-851-7555

Fax 877-877-7955



SKYPE available upon request


Weekdays:  9am to 5pm.

Early Morning: By appointment only.

Evenings: By appointment only.

Weekends: By appointment only.

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