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Legal Separation in Texas

 Posted on September 15, 2017 in Complex Divorce

Texas divorce lawyerMany states have procedures in place to help couples obtain a legal separation prior to divorce. Unfortunately, Texas is not one of those states, as it does not recognize legal separation. However, it is possible for couples to enter into a contractual separation agreement that resolves property division and child custody related issues before obtaining a divorce. While courts do not sign off on these contracts, the terms of the agreements can be used at a later date during divorce proceedings. For this reason, it is extremely important that if you are considering a divorce and want to enter into a separation agreement, you speak with an experienced complex divorce attorney who can ensure that the contract’s terms are enforceable.

Legal Separations

While there are no Texas statutes that specifically address legal separations, couples are permitted to enter into legally binding separation agreements while they are informally separated. These contracts can include provisions regarding a number of legal issues, including:

  • Physical custody of any children;
  • Visitation rights of either spouse;
  • Whether one of the spouses is permitted to stay in the home, while the other relocates;
  • How debts and bills will be divided between the parties;
  • Who will retain access to and control of bank accounts;
  • Whether one spouse will provide financial support to the other; and
  • Whether one of the parties will be required to pay child support.

Couples can even decide how property will be divided between them during the separation. This usually takes the form of creating a partition and exchange agreement, which allows the parties to separate their property through title exchanges. If the parties later go through a divorce, the property that was partitioned under the agreement will be considered separate property and so not divisible as it would be if it were marital property.

If a couple later decides to obtain a divorce, the court may be willing to use the contract’s provisions as the basis for the parenting agreement and child support order. However, even when a couple is able to come to an agreement, it will not be enforceable by the court in the same way that a court order would be. For this reason, a judge couldn’t find a spouse in contempt and punish him or her for disobeying the agreement. Instead, one of the parties would need to file a lawsuit against the other for breach of contract.

Filing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship

If a couple wishes to live separately, but have not yet begun the divorce process, they can also choose to file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. While these lawsuits do not address legal separation issues, such as property division or spousal maintenance, they do involve a discussion of each parent’s rights and duties, the child custody or visitation schedule, and the amount of child support a party is required to pay. Many spouses choose to file this type of suit when they do not meet the state’s residency requirement but want to establish a child custody order until they qualify.

How a Complex Georgetown Divorce Attorney Can Help

If you have questions about entering into a legal separation agreement, please contact Powers Kerr & Rashidi, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced Georgetown divorce attorney who can address your concerns. Our legal team is prepared to assist you today.



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