What is “separate maintenance?”
A “separate maintenance” action is a kind of court action filed between married persons. Many people know the action by its more common name, “legal separation.”
A “separate maintenance” action does not dissolve the parties’ marriage. A “separate maintenance” action does not “divorce” the married parties. A “separate maintenance” action does request that the court issue orders about the rights that each party to the marriage has regarding:
property and debt
children, including child custody, child support, residency, parenting time, and third party visitation
spousal support and maintenance (previously known as “alimony”)
A “separate maintenance” action is basically a holdover from earlier times in history when divorces were difficult to obtain. Separate maintenance cases are not commonly filed. And filing a separate maintenance case instead of a divorce may increase costs. If one spouse files a separate maintenance action, the other spouse can ask for a divorce instead. And if a divorce is requested by either spouse, the court must grant the divorce rather than grant the separate maintenance request.