Legal Separation in Texas
My spouse and I want a legal separation. What do we do?
For starters, move to another state. Texas does not currently have a status that is called ‘legal separation'. There are, however, ways to accomplish something similar.
Closest to a legal separation required the filing of a divorce action. During the time after filing and before completion (usually many months), the parties by agreement or after court hearing, can have a temporary order. It will last until the divorce is final, or until modified. A temporary order should make clear everything about the separation prior to the final divorce, including, at minimum, who gets to use which property, who is paying for what things, who sees the children and when, who makes decisions about the children, etc…. In essence, it is a snapshot of the finality of a divorce, but only temporary. And, because it is a court order, it is ‘legal.'
A separation agreement, without a divorce in progress, is also possible-but it is only an agreement. In order to ensure compliance with such an agreement, a divorce would have to be started. Within such an agreement, the couple can determine all property rights, including property ownership issues, separate versus community property decisions, income rights, and all aspects of children's issues (visitation, decision making, child support) Such an agreement can be the terms for divorce, and if done properly, the property agreements in it should become the court's order/decree. Children's issues require the use of a mediated settlement agreement to have the same enforceability.
Protection of your rights and those of your children throughout any family separation is important. Please consider calling my office to discuss how I can help you with a thorough agreement to be certain you are safe and protected in the midst of a difficult time.
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