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Legal Separation in Texas: What Are Your Options?

Unfortunately, legal separation in Texas does not exist. When your marriage breaks down beyond repair, it’s likely that the idea of separation crosses your mind on occasion. Whether you talk to others or search online, a separation might also sound like the more economical option. 

However, legal separation in Texas is not an option. Unless you go through the procedure to dissolve a marriage and obtain a final divorce decree, the state considers you married legally. 

Luckily, you still have options to obtain a similar outcome. When you want to explore your options, it’s essential to work with a family lawyer. Your attorney assesses your goals and develops a strategy to help you achieve them. 

When it comes to a divorce or separation, legal representation is crucial. This is because you put important rights at risk. Below, we explore the options available when you want to separate from your spouse. 

What Options Do I Have Instead of a Legal Separation?

While you cannot get a legal separation in Texas, there are a few other options that offer similar outcomes. Let’s look at a few of them. 

  • Protective orders 
  • Temporary orders 
  • Suits that affect the parent-child relationship
  • Separation agreements

When you work with an attorney, it’s possible to attain many of the same goals as someone seeking a legal separation. Each of the above options is similar because they provide financial support, visitation, and property orders without a full divorce. 

Protective Orders in Texas

In Texas, a protective order is available to protect victims of family violence, or domestic abuse. Generally speaking, people view these as similar to legal separations. This is because they dictate where a child lives as well as who has access to them. 

Additionally, protective orders determine who stays in a residence or who has to leave. Moreover, your lawyer can use this to help establish child support, spousal support, or both. Typically, these orders expire after two years. To learn more about this option, contact a Houston civil litigation attorney who specializes in family law. 

What Does a Temporary Order Do?

Temporary orders cover an array of matters throughout the divorce process. This includes possession of the child, who gains what property, who pays certain bills, and more. 

Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)

When you file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), it’s another way to pursue the outcome of a legal separation in Texas. An SAPCR suit is a custody case that is not part of the divorce proceedings. 

This is one way to change or determine possession, conservatorship, or access to your child. If you were never married to the co-parent, it’s a way for you to gain conservatorship. 

A Separation Agreement

Essentially, a separation agreement is a contract. It states that spouses no longer reside together yet have not filed for divorce. This agreement details the rights and duties of the people involved while separated. 

While there is no “legal separation” in Texas, this option is incredibly similar. That’s because it sets requirements for property rights, visitation, financial support, and more. 

Still, in order to form a valid separation agreement, you need a detailed contract signed by both parties. Similar to a legal separation, this is a cost-effective and timely way to establish the details of a separation. 

However, the process is not simple. It requires legal representation and expertise to execute properly. This is because small mistakes often have dire consequences. 

What to Consider for a Divorce or Legal Separation in Texas

When it comes to a marriage, every case is unique. It’s difficult to provide a universal solution to such a personal problem. Additionally, there are financial ramifications to consider. 

Here are a few of the factors that impact the financials of a separation. 

  • Your relationship with your spouse has a major impact on the process. Often, disputes tend to draw things out and increase the costs. 
  • High net worth and complex assets also make the process difficult. The division of property begins with a classification of assets. When the proceedings involve real estate holdings, investments, trusts, etc, it complicates matters. 
  • Extensive communal debt means that both parties share the obligation in a “separation.”
  • Hidden assets also increase the complexity of separations and divorce proceedings. 

A Houston Divorce Attorney Can Help with “Legal Separation” in Texas

While it’s not possible to attain a legal separation in Texas, it’s possible to mimic some of the outcomes. With a divorce attorney on your side, you have the guidance of a trusted advocate. In addition to legal insight, they can help you explore your financial options throughout the process. 

As you weigh your options, it’s a good idea to schedule a free consultation with an attorney. After reviewing your situation, your lawyer helps you make an informed decision between divorce and legal separation in Texas.