Rules on Separation Before Filing for Divorce in Texas

By Heather Frances J.D.

Texas couples may choose to separate for many reasons, but couples frequently separate because they are planning to divorce. Separations may mean one spouse physically moves elsewhere, or the spouses may simply begin living separate lives in the same house.

Texas couples may choose to separate for many reasons, but couples frequently separate because they are planning to divorce. Separations may mean one spouse physically moves elsewhere, or the spouses may simply begin living separate lives in the same house.

Legal Separation

Texas allows spouses to divorce without separating for any amount of time. Unlike many other states, Texas law does not provide any process for legal separation, which would allow couples to live legally separate lives without actually divorcing. However, Texas recognizes that spouses sometimes need courts to intervene during periods of separation, so spouses can ask the court for orders addressing certain issues prior to their divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship

If spouses with children wish to live separately without filing for divorce, they can file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. This type of suit addresses the rights and duties of each parent, the child custody schedule and the amount of child support a parent is required to pay, but it does not require divorce. However, SAPCR cases do not address common legal separation issues, such as property division or alimony payments. Spouses commonly file SAPCR cases if they do not yet meet Texas’ six-month residency requirement for filing for divorce but want to establish rights regarding the children until they qualify to file.

Temporary Orders

Instead of filing a SAPCR case, couples who qualify to file for divorce can file their divorce paperwork and ask the court to issue temporary orders until the divorce is final. These temporary orders could include the payment of monthly expenses, temporary spousal support, temporary custody of the children and temporary child support payments, much like orders in a typical legal separation. The court can then wrap these temporary orders into the divorce decree or simply allow them to expire when the divorce becomes final.

Separation Agreements

Texas allows spouses to enter into contractual separation agreements or property partition agreements to govern their conduct prior to a divorce. However, Texas considers these types of agreements to be contracts; therefore, they are not enforceable as court orders, so a judge cannot find a spouse in contempt and punish him for disobeying the agreement. Instead, one spouse would have to bring a lawsuit against the other for breaching the contract, which may require a lengthier court process.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Are Legal Separation Papers Necessary in North Carolina?

References

Related articles

How to Become Legally Separated From a Spouse

In most states, a legal separation means a couple is bound by a court order outlining the terms of their separation. The separation agreement will generally include issues of child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and division of marital property and assets. Each state establishes its own laws and procedures regarding legal separation. Although couples in all states can generally prepare legally binding agreements on divorce issues, not all states recognize legal separation as a distinct marital status.

Divorce and Separation in Texas

While some states allow parties to request some sort of court-ordered legal separation as a first step toward divorce, Texas does not. However, spouses are allowed to draft contracts to divide property and voluntarily live separately, which may accomplish the same result as a legal separation. If the marriage does not repair itself, a petition for divorce can be filed, provided the spouses meet the residency requirements.

Separation Laws in Virginia

Separation is Virginia's version of a no-fault divorce, but the state is not very strict about its requirements. Other than the duration of your separation, Virginia imposes few rules for its terms. You don't have to file anything with the court to begin the separation period, and a written agreement between you and your spouse is optional.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Does Legal Separation Involve?

Legal separation can be difficult to understand because the same process isn't recognized in all states. In some ...

What Is a Stipulated Divorce in Wisconsin?

Divorce can become a complicated, time-consuming process if spouses cannot agree on key legal issues and must have a ...

What Happens After a Legal Separation Is Filed?

Whether a couple can file for legal separation depends on state law. In those states that make legal separation ...

Ohio No-Fault Divorce Requirements

Ohio couples can choose an uncontested divorce, called a dissolution, in which they agree to the divorce and on all ...

Browse by category