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State Bar of Texas

What You Need to Know About Legal Separation in Texas

Jerry W. Tidwell, Jr.
Legal separation in Texas

Legal separation is not directly addressed under Texas law.

However, you can still “legally separate.”

In other words, there are no specific statutes addressing legal separation. So, it is not specifically recognized by Texas courts. That means that you and your spouse can split up and live separately and reach agreements on issues like child support and visitation that have the weight of the court behind them.

In addition, you can file with the Texas Courts known as the Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). When a divorce is filed in Texas, a SAPCR is automatically filed within the divorce petition. However, since some couples who have children are not married, and others are still married when they separate, the SAPCR fills in the gap to accommodate such circumstances.

Here’s everything you need to know about legal separation in Texas.

The short answer is no.

Under the law, there is no such thing as a legal separation in the State of Texas. Although there are many benefits to having a protocol for managing legal separations, Texas has yet to establish a framework for them.

However, you can informally separate in the State of Texas. This gives spouses a chance to cool off, determine what they want from the future and, in some cases, they do get back together. In other cases, they decide to divorce.

The question then becomes: How do two spouses separate their finances, arrange child support, and visitation with their children when they are still married?

Separating Financial Holdings and Assets While Still Married

Any two people can come to a legally binding agreement under the law in Texas. However, the key word there is agreement. You and your spouse will need to take a look at your marital property, which is generally defined as property or assets acquired during the marriage and then divide it in some equitable way. This agreement must be signed by both spouses and then it becomes legally binding.

These are known as “partition and exchange agreements”.

What You Need to Know about Partition and Exchange Agreements

Firstly, these agreements must be decided completely by you and your spouse. While it’s possible to have an attorney negotiate the agreement, you can’t call the courts in to render a decision on the matter unless you initiate a divorce. That’s not a great system, but it is what Texans must work with.

Lastly, the agreement will still be in place if you decide to get back together. That means that marital property accrued up until that point is no longer marital property—it’s the personal property of one or the other spouse.

A Texas Divorce Attorney Can Help You Manage a Separation

The parties can work with attorneys who will help them come to a mutual agreement concerning key issues. The Tidwell Law Firm’s family law attorneys in McKinney, Texas have helped Texas couples divide their assets and arrange custody while still married.

Please feel free to give us a call or talk to us online and schedule your free consultation.

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