Legal Separation in Texas

Nancy B. Alston

When you are experiencing a marital conflict with your spouse and want to take a step towards divorce, some couples consider legal separation as a viable option. Legal separation is beneficial if both spouses believe that they no longer want to live together but would still like to remain married, whether it is a fear of going through divorce proceedings or the hope of eventual reconciliation. In some states, this is legally recognized and spouses can request alimony, child support/custody and division of property under this classification.

However, Texas has no provisions for legal separation, so a divorce must occur to legally separate the above factors. Texas, however, does recognize temporary orders to be filed at the time the divorce is filed. This can help you make impermanent changes while the proceedings are going on.

Because there is no official documentation recognizing a legal separation in Texas, you are still technically married to your spouse during this time. In that instance, you do not have the legal right to divide assets or demand child support, even if the spouse agrees. This may be harmonious if both spouses agree to the same terms but, if one changes his or her mind; you will not have legal protection without a divorce. You can also not remarry unless the court grants dissolution of marriage.

In cases of abuse, either to a spouse or child, a divorce is extremely important in protecting the safety of the victims. Not only should this be brought to court under marital processes, but under criminal law, as well.

Though Texas does not recognize separation, the state does offer a “no fault divorce” law, which allows one spouse to file for a divorce without providing grounds, such as adultery or cruelty. In this case, the spouse only has to prove “irreconcilable differences” and that the marriage cannot be saved any more.

Whether you are going through a separation or a divorce, the help of an experienced attorney can help you navigate this often-confusing process. Because each state has different laws regarding marriage and the dissolution of marriage, you will want to work with a lawyer who has a specialization in your state’s laws. Divorce can often be a difficult, stressful time in one’s life, but you can alleviate some of those worries knowing that you have intelligence and experience on your side in the form of a divorce lawyer.

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