Husband and wife contemplate signing paperwork for legal separation in Texas

How Does Legal Separation Work in Texas?

As a husband or wife, you may be in a situation where your marriage is no longer succeeding. Perhaps you tried counseling first, but you agree that divorce is the best resolution for both parties.

Starting on the path of a legal divorce isn’t easy, and you may have questions about whether you can obtain a legal separation in Texas. I’ll help you understand how this process works and your legal options during this interim period before the divorce is finalized.

Where Legal Separation Fits into the Divorce Process

Terminating a marriage starts with one of the spouses filing a petition with the court. Then, before meeting with a judge, the couple will need to try to come to an agreement on property division, spousal support, and child-related issues such as custody, visitation, and child support if you have children. If you cannot reach an agreement at this stage, the judge will assist in resolving outstanding issues.

While this is going on, you and your spouse will still be considered legally married, even if you are physically separated and living in different locations. This is because Texas law does not recognize legal separation. However, there are other options similar in nature to a legal separation.

The court will allow a couple to live apart and make temporary arrangements while the divorce is pending. These temporary agreements can cover several different issues, including spousal support and property division. The court allows for the couple to reach a cordial settlement that’s suitable for the family. If the agreement is fair to each party, the order will be approved by the judge and incorporated into the final divorce judgement.

In Texas, you also have the option to request separation agreements and temporary and protective orders. These options serve as a temporary remedy before the divorce is finalized.

1. Separation Agreement

Some couples who aren’t quite ready to move forward with divorce can instead try a separation agreement. This can provide protection and structure to your separation. While this is designed to help couples take the next step toward divorce, it can sometimes help couples find their way back to a stronger marriage after taking a physical break away from each other on the path to reconciliation.

This written contract is created and signed by each spouse to support their living conditions while legally married but living apart. It’s meant to specify the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during this period. The parties can see and agree to all pertinent issues concerning child custody and visitation, property division, and alimony (spousal support).

2. Temporary Order

A temporary order is often needed immediately after a divorce is initiated. It’s used to award the exclusive use of property to one spouse and address which bills each spouse has to pay. This order also addresses the outcome for children once the divorce is finalized, including child support, custody, and visitation.

3. Protective Order

A protective order is used to provide protection for a spouse and child(ren) in the event of abuse or domestic violence. If you or your child is a victim of sexual abuse, stalking, or violence, you may apply for this order to keep your abuser away while the divorce is finalized.

A protective order will order an abuser to stay away from where you are living and prevent them from harassing or threatening you or your children. The abuser will also be ordered not to carry a gun even if the person is licensed to carry in Texas.

What To Do If You’re Concerned About Your Children

Separations are hard on everyone, but they’re especially hard on the children involved. You want to make this process as easy as possible for your children. There are a variety of ways to support your children during separation on the path to divorce. In some situations, the children will remain in the family home with one spouse or live with grandparents temporarily.

However the scheduling works out, it’s critical that you obtain a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship Order (SAPR). This order allows for you to make decisions in the best interest of your child while the divorce is ongoing.

Find Support During the Separation Stage of Your Divorce

I have worked closely with numerous families in regard to legal separation in Texas and the path to divorce. I recognize that the separation stage is extremely stressful for both parents and children if you have children. I encourage you to continue to remain an active parent supporting your children during this process.

From a legal perspective, I recommend that you find expert legal support as quickly as possible. I will work with you throughout the entire divorce process. Getting started upfront at the beginning will help you down the road as you seek to finalize the divorce and arrive at the best possible position for your future.

For the past decade, I have successfully helped families in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate divorce issues. Contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss a legal separation in Texas and get started on your divorce case.