Legal separation in Texas
Can I get a legal separation in Texas?
Answer: you can achieve the same effects, but there’s no “legal separation” in Texas. Some states, such as Colorado, have a court proceeding that results in a decree of legal separation, but Texas does not. In Texas, you’re either single, married, or divorced. Despite this, Texan spouses can reach the same general results that occur with a “legal separation.”
There are two primary issues that should be addressed when a couple intentionally separates because of personality differences (or other reasons) and decides to remain legally married.
Custody of any children
In Texas, a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) can establish married parents’ rights regarding their children. A SAPCR petition must be filed in Court and the proceeding will not result in a divorce. It will, however, result in a binding Court Order that separates your rights, responsibilities, and possession and access schedules for your children. Living separately without a SAPCR order and expecting to always agree with your spouse on possession of your children is ill-advised.
Protecting property interests during the separation period
Even when children aren’t at issue, spouses should seriously consider the financial risk of an intentional separation period. The Texas Family Code allows spouses to partition or exchange any or all of the community property that exists between them. Many times, the right to continue to live in the marital household is the most significant issue to be resolved, but there are other issues to consider as well. The Code also allows spouses to agree upon any or all community property that is expected to be acquired (i.e. during the separation). In order to protect yourself financially during an extended (or short) period of separation, you should discuss property issues with your spouse. In addition, it’s best to also consult your own independent attorney.
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