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In Texas, Legal Separation Doesn’t Exist

There are many reasons why you might want to live apart from your spouse without legally ending your marriage with a divorce. Some people hope that some time living separately can help them reconcile their differences and make the marriage stronger in the end. Others know their marriage relationship is over, yet they do not want to get divorced for financial or religious reasons. Whatever the situation might be, it is important to protect your rights and interests during a separation.

Most states allow spouses who are separating but not divorcing to obtain a legal separation. This achieves much of what a divorce case would, but without legally dissolving the marriage. Legal separation allows the court to rule on how to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, and financial support during the separation to ensure the well-being of each spouse and any children involved.

Texas law, however, does not allow for legal separation. The court will not enter an order about your property or finances unless you have already filed for divorce. However, separation can wreak havoc on your finances, and in some situations, you might not be able to support yourself without a legal order or agreement for your spouse to share property or provide support. The following are some options that might work to protect your interests during separation.

Temporary Order Regarding Your Children

The court will rule on child-related matters since the law emphasizes the best interests of a child in any situation, whether it is a separation or divorce. You can also file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) if necessary to obtain a court order. This will determine how you and your spouse will share physical and legal custody of your children while you are separated, as well as decide whether one parent should receive child support payments from the other. 

Out-of-Court Separation Agreement

Just because the court will not rule on property or spousal support matters does not mean that you and your spouse cannot reach your own out-of-court separation agreement. This agreement can include terms regarding:

If you decide to live together, you can simply rescind this agreement. A separation agreement is legally binding, so you should always have it drafted by an experienced family lawyer who knows how to address issues in a separation.

Contact an Experienced Fort Worth Family Law Attorney for Assistance

Married couples should follow their own path, and they should not let a lack of legal separation in Texas pressure them into filing for divorce or moving back in together. Instead, if you plan to be separated for a period of time, you should discuss your options with Fort Worth family lawyer Kyle Whitaker. Our law firm is ready to assist in all types of situations, so please call 817-332-7703 or contact us online today.