What Can I Do Besides Getting Divorced?
An individual who is considering getting divorced can follow several other options, including "nothing."
Sadly, the option of doing nothing, other than just to continue on is an option many unhappy people will choose. Many clients have shared that they didn’t realize it at the time, but doing nothing was a decision in and of itself. The list of reasons for not taking action is many. It includes waiting until the kids are grown, waiting for vesting in a pension or for a mortgage to ultimately be paid off, waiting until one party returns to work or employment prospects improve, etc. Others put off divorce for religious reasons, or merely to avoid their own perceived stigma of divorce. The option of doing nothing is a very personal decision and no attorney can make that decision for you. However, many people do nothing because they have not investigated what’s on the other side of a divorce. They have no knowledge of what the division of assets or assignments of support will be. A well-qualified Michigan family law attorney can bring concrete answers to these questions, as well as many others. Knowing the answers to these questions can then give you the necessary facts as to whether doing nothing is the right course of action for you. Here are some options to consider:
A qualified marriage counselor can help the parties discover what the nature of their conflict is. In fact, there is usually more than one factor that is troubling a marriage. Finding a qualified marriage counselor, one that can really help the parties to overcome conflict, is not easy. Don’t just sign up with the first counselor that is recommended to you. Like attorneys, just because they are licensed by the state of Michigan, does not automatically make them excellent at their profession. Take your time and check with multiple sources. Frequently, churches will also have ministries that counsel marriages. Many individuals may feel more comfortable in a church setting. Regardless of which counselor is chosen, go into marriage counseling knowing that it’s not a “quick fix.” It usually took years or even decades for trouble to fester in a marriage; it is not likely that four or six marriage counseling sessions will restore communication. Marriage counseling is a long-term solution, but may people who are willing to put the effort in have shared that they received good results. Also, unfortunately in certain situations, the trust and communication between the parties have been broken down so completely that even a top-notch marriage counselor cannot help preserve the marriage.
Seeking a Legal Separation - The Michigan Separate Maintenance Agreement
Perhaps no area of Michigan family law has as much misinformation as the concept of “legal separation.” People will often say things like, “my wife and I have been legally separated for some time now”, or “oh, Bill and Mary, have been legally separated for years.” It’s not that these people are trying to be deceitful, it just that they are misinformed. The fact is, there is only one type of legal separation in Michigan and that is referred to as a Separate Maintenance Agreement.
A Separate Maintenance Agreement is very similar to a divorce, with the most notable exception being that parties who are operating under such an agreement are not free to remarry. In every other respect, the parties are subjected to the same requirements of a divorce. Identical to divorces, Separate Maintenance Agreements require a complete separation of all assets, an agreement on child custody and visitation, and an order of child support and/or spousal support.
In general, there are very limited reasons why someone would choose to seek a Separate Maintenance Agreement rather than a divorce. The main reasons are for religious purposes.
If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers, call me. I've helped hundreds of people protect their family and their assets and I can help you. For a FREE Consultation Call (248) 921-7164