Michigan allows married couples to file for separate maintenance rather than divorce if they choose. During a separate maintenance action the parties may wish to enter into a separate maintenance agreement.
Separate maintenance, as an alternative to divorce, is what most people refer to as legal separation. The grounds and procedure for filing for separate maintenance and divorce are the same. If the court finds that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed, she will issue a judgment for separate maintenance. The parties are not legally divorced when a judgment for separate maintenance has been entered.
A Michigan separate maintenance agreement can settle the same issues as a divorce agreement. This can include property division, custody and child support, and spousal support, among others. If signed by both parties and made a part of the judgment by the court, the agreement is binding on both parties.
If your spouse has filed a petition for separate maintenance, you may admit the allegations in the petition, deny the allegations or counter claim for divorce. If you proceed with the separate maintenance action but are unable to reach an agreement on the issues, your case will proceed to a final hearing. At the final hearing the judge will rule on all contested issues, and those rulings will become part of the judgment for separate maintenance.