How to File for a Legal Separation in Michigan

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A legal separation in Michigan is referred to as Separate Maintenance. Separate Maintenance means that the couple is no longer living together and there is a breakdown in the marriage that will probably never be overcome. A Separate Maintenance filing asks the court to divide the property and debts of the couple, and make determinations regarding child support, child custody and spousal support, without officially terminating the marriage. Either the husband or wife must have lived in Michigan for at least 6 months before filing for Separate Maintenance, and lived in the county where the petition is being filed, for at least 10 days.

File a Petition for Separate Maintenance at the District Court Clerk's office in the county where you live. This petition asks the court to divide your property and debts and issue orders for child custody, child support and spousal support.

Read More: Separation vs. Divorce in Michigan

Pay the filing fee. The filing fee varies from county to county. Check with the court in your area to determine the proper fee.

Have your spouse served. Any adult over age 18, a certified process server, or the Sheriff, can serve your spouse with the Petition and Summons for Separate Maintenance. Process servers and the Sheriff's Office both charge fees for service.

Attend Separate Maintenance Hearing. Any contentious issues between you and your spouse regarding marital assets, debts, and child custody will be resolved at this hearing. The judge will sign off on your petition and you will be granted Separate Maintenance.


  • If your spouse asks the court to grant a divorce rather than Separate Maintenance, the court must grant a divorce. The court cannot legally grant a judgment of Separate Maintenance if only one party desires it.