Unlike most states, Texas does not have legal separation laws. However, a couple can initiate other, similar legal processes to live separately while their divorce is pending.
Couples often choose to separate rather than divorce for a variety of reasons. The most common being:
- one or both parties have accumulated government or career benefits they wish to protect;
- one or both parties cannot divorce due to religious factors; and/or
- one party is the sole provider of health coverage and a divorce could leave the other without insurance coverage.
While the law does not recognize separation as a legal process, couples can remain married but live separately from one another. However, all assets and property they accumulate during this time will still be subject to the state’s property division guidelines if they choose to divorce at a later date.
Informal Separation Arrangements
In Texas, a couple cannot begin any type of informal separation agreement until they file for divorce. These informal agreements cover
- property division;
- spousal support;
- child support;
- child custody.
If the court considers the stipulations for the above-mentioned subjects to be ‘fair and just’ for both parties, the judge will approve the orders and include them in the final divorce judgment.
Couples with minor children who wish to separate can file a request without first beginning divorce proceedings. This request is known as a Suit Affecting the Parent/Child Relationship and it can help separating parents establish plans for child custody, visitation, and support. If one parent files this suit and the other eventually files for divorce, the court will combine the two requests into one court proceeding.
Another legal document a couple can file without first filing for divorce is called a Partition and Exchange Agreement. This allows a couple to divide marital property in such a way that it becomes separate property. This is to ensure that if they divorce later, the court will not have control over dividing the property.
Helping Our Clients Maintain Their Best Interests
With over 15 years of experience helping couples find ways to legally separate, Attorney Kay Polk is more than capable of finding a solution for your situation. She is well-versed in all Texas laws concerning separation agreements and can help you and your spouse work out an arrangement.
To schedule an appointment call our office at (713) 234-6260 or contact us online.