Legal Separation in Texas

November 9, 2018 Posted in Divorce

Sometimes a married couple approaches their Dallas family law attorney to inquire about options for a legal separation.

Perhaps they have religious or moral objections to getting an actual divorce but nevertheless want to live apart permanently under a legal separation agreement that is sanctioned by the courts.

In other circumstances, a couple might be going through a difficult time. They may feel the need to live apart but may be unsure as to whether they are ready to commit to something as permanent as a divorce. In these types of cases, the couple is hoping for some kind of trial separation agreement that could then either be reversed or transformed into an actual agreement for dissolution of the marriage if it comes to that.

In each of these cases, what the couple is hoping for is a legal relationship sanctioned by law in Texas that is something less than marriage, but something more than divorce. While still married, they want to enter into a contract that spells out the issues that are usually specified in a divorce decree, such as child custody, housing, support and other matters.

If they have their minds set on obtaining a legal separation they are going to be disappointed. For better or for worse, Texas, along with a handful of other states, does not recognize legal separation.

Divorce or Informal Separation

In Texas, the only process available for legally separating from a spouse is divorce. If a couple wants to live separately, however, an informal arrangement can always be constructed between the parties without the need for formal contracts. The parties might want to consult with their Dallas family law attorney to help iron out some of the details, but ultimately the agreement will be informal and not enforceable in court.

Partition and Exchange Agreement

Texas’ answer to a separation agreement is the partition and exchange agreement, a contract the couple can enter into while remaining legally married.

Under Texas law, spouses can partition or exchange marital property, also called community property, between themselves by agreement. They can choose what property they want to become the sole property of which spouse and spell it all out in a legally binding document that is signed by both parties.

One of the benefits of entering into a partition and exchange agreement is that if the parties do end up divorcing, the division of property issues would already have been decided, making the process much easier on everyone concerned.

In the event that after entering into a partition and exchange agreement the couple decides to reconcile, the agreement will remain in full force unless and until they take affirmative action to dissolve it. That means if they don’t undo the agreement and one of them dies or they get a subsequent divorce, the property will remain divided as spelled out in the partition and exchange agreement.

Contact Dallas Family Law Attorney Michael P. Granata With Questions

The decision to pursue either a divorce or some type of marital separation can be daunting. It always helps to understand your options and the pros and cons of each. To discuss these or other legal issues, call Dallas family law attorney Michael P Granata at 214-977-9050 or reach out to us online.