separationSeparation and Separate Maintenance are synonyms.  To be separated from one’s spouse is a legal status like being married or divorced.

Generally, formal separation is often considered as an alternative to divorce.  An action for separate maintenance is filed and prosecuted in the same manner as a divorce proceeding.

Upon the entry of a judgment of separate maintenance, the parties remain married, but the family court has the authority to divide property and order support. Either spouse can “convert” the separate maintenance action into a divorce proceeding, during or after the initial case filing, or even after the entry of a judgment.

So why bother with an action for separate maintenance? Sometimes, health insurance coverage is a significant issue. Especially when one spouse is of an advanced age, with preexisting health issues, separate maintenance may make some sense. Caution: some employers will use the filing of a judgment of separate maintenance as a trigger to terminate coverage for the non-employee spouse.

In other cases, religious concerns interfere with a couple getting divorced. Something to keep in mind, however, is that a separated couple remains legally married. This status works a hardship in many cases which is why formal separations are relatively rare in the family courts.

If you are interested in exploring your options relating to separation vis a vie divorce, contact our offices to schedule a free initial consultation.

Clarkston Legal