I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
The term "legal separation" refers to a very specific court procedure that does not exist in Michigan. Spouses are separated as soon as they live separate and apart with no intention of reconciling. Creating a separation agreement before filing for divorce does not in any way harm the parties, as long as you agree to everything in that document. The judge will uphold what you agree to. So, if you agree to accept less spousal support or less child support than what you're entitled to, that could backfire. It may help to have a local attorney read the agreement before you sign, especially if your husband has a lawyer. And you should know that one lawyer cannot ethically represent both of you. If he has a lawyer write the agreement or purporting to help you understand it, get your own lawyer. You'll be able to ask that your husband pay your legal fees.
You're entitled to approximately half of all assets acquired during the marriage, which includes any money your husband put into a 401(k) or other retirement accounts, expensive furniture, jewelry (other than gifts), cars, a house - everything. It doesn't matter whose name is ***** ***** asset or who paid for it, as long as it was acquired during the marriage. Spousal support is need-based. For a marriage of 12 years, your husband will likely be required to continue supporting you for about 6 years, or half the duration of the marriage, unless you remarry first. What he has to pay will depend on how much you need to meet your expenses versus how much he can afford to pay, after considering child support (since that money can cover some expenses like utilities or housing that you and the children both use). To get permanent support, you'd have to be able to establish that he agreed to support you forever in the event that the marriage didn't work out, which requires something in writing. Also, if you want to be able to continue support until the youngest child turns 18, you'll have to establish that this was the agreement the two of you had. If you need additional education or training to regain the workforce, you can ask the judge to order him to help you pay for those expenses.
Child support is based on several factors. This site will help you determine how much your husband will likely be required to pay, based on the specific facts of your case.
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