Texas doesn’t recognize legal separation, but that doesn’t mean spouses who wish to live apart can’t do so. By working with a family lawyer, you can make many of the same legal arrangements you want from a legal separation.
What Is Legal Separation?
In the states that recognize it, legal separation refers to a court order that permits married couples to remain married but disentangle their legal and financial relationship to each other. Many of the same issues that are addressed during divorce – such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony – are decided as part of the legal separation agreement.
How Is Separation Different from Divorce?
Separation is not as final as divorce, which means spouses remain married but live lives completely independently of each other.
People choose separation for various reasons, such as if they are unsure about divorce and want to try living separately for a while. People also choose separation if their faith forbids divorce or if they wish to retain important Social Security benefits.
Importantly, anyone who is formally or informally separated can’t marry anyone else until they officially divorce their spouse.
Why Doesn’t Texas Have Legal Separation?
It may depend on who you ask, but Texas doesn’t have legal separation for a few reasons. Traditional views revering the sanctity of marriage may be one explanation whereas another explanation might be fears of the potential legal inefficiencies and complexities of separation.
Even if Texas doesn’t recognize legal separation, there are alternatives that can create a similar situation.
Alternatives to Legal Separation in Texas
Whereas legal separation is often handled as its own issue in other states, married Texans who wish to informally separate can do so by obtaining certain court orders and agreements.
These orders and agreements can include the following:
- Temporary Orders: Used to establish child custody, visitation, and child support on a temporary basis.
- Partition Agreement: Used to divide community property, including all assets and debts belonging to the marriage.
- Protective Orders: Used to protect victims of domestic violence, including those who have been harmed or fear being harmed by their spouse. Protective orders can also outline with whom a child lives and who has access to them. Spousal and child support may also be factors in a protective order.
- Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR): Used to resolve child custody, visitation, and support matters whether a couple is informally separated or not married.
If you wish to learn more about how you can make the legal arrangements necessary to live apart from your spouse, Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can help. With guidance from our experienced family lawyer, you can work toward establishing the foundation for the next stage of your life.