A separation agreement is a written contract between two spouses who have agreed to separate but remain legally married.
While you cannot get a legal separation in Texas, you can still create and sign a separation agreement, a legally binding contract between two spouses who are married but want to live apart.
Speak with League City family law attorney Rob Musemeche, the founding attorney at Musemeche Law, P.C., for help drafting a legally binding and enforceable separation agreement in Texas.
What are the Alternatives to Legal Separation in Texas?
Although Texas does not recognize legal separation, there are some alternatives to consider. The following options can be used to obtain similar results:
- Separation agreement
- Temporary order
- Protective order
- A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)
Can We Separate Informally?
Just because Texas does not recognize legal separation does not mean that married couples cannot separate and live apart informally without filing for divorce.
If you and your spouse want to separate informally, there is no Texas law prohibiting you from doing so. You can live apart for a period of time to decide if you wish to file for divorce or reconcile.
However, do keep in mind that there may be financial consequences if you are separated but have not filed for divorce. Any debts and assets you and your spouse acquire while separated informally must be equally split because Texas is a “community property” state (Texas Family Code § 3.002).
What is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a written contract created and signed between spouses who live apart but are not officially divorced. The agreement is used to specify the rights and duties of the spouses while living separately.
Technically, a separation agreement allows the parties to obtain many of the same benefits of “legal separation.” A separation agreement allows the parties to address issues regarding alimony, child custody and visitation, and property division.
It is advised to seek legal counsel from an experienced divorce attorney in Texas to help you draft an enforceable and comprehensive separation agreement.
What are Temporary and Protective Orders?
In some cases, it may be appropriate to ask the Texas judge to issue a temporary or protective order.
- A temporary order is used to award exclusive use of the house to one spouse. A temporary order can also address who has to pay which bills, when each parent will see their children, and whether temporary alimony or child support is appropriate while the divorce is pending.
- A protective order, on the other hand, can be used to protect you and your child from domestic violence and abuse. A protective order can prohibit contact between the respondent and petitioner. Generally, protective orders are effective for up to two years in Texas.
In addition, you may be able to establish child support and custody by bringing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) in Texas. Discuss your unique situation with our League City divorce attorney at Musemeche Law, P.C., to help you protect your rights while your divorce case is ongoing.