If you live in Texas and you and your spouse have serious marital difficulties but do not want to divorce, you may wonder if you can get a legal separation instead. Many states have statutory provisions for legal separations, but as WomansDivorce.com explains, Texas, unfortunately, is not one of those states.
So what do you do if you and your spouse believe you need a separation, but you cannot obtain one in Texas? With respect to some things, you can work around the lack of a specific legal separation law. For instance, you can have and maintain separate residences while still legally married to each other.
Child custody, visitation and support
You and your spouse can likewise make your own informal agreement with regard to the custody, visitation and support of your children. You can agree on your own voluntary parenting plan. You can even go to court and file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship and obtain a SAPCR court order. Should you decide to go this route, however, your best strategy is to hire an attorney to draft your order. You can also contact the Office of the Texas Attorney General to obtain some assistance.
As you likely already know, Texas is a community property state. What this means is that, by law, you and your spouse each own a 50 percent interest in all the property you have accumulated during your marriage. However, you and your spouse can enter into a Partition and Exchange Agreement, a written contract that the two of you sign giving each of you part of the marital property as your own separate property. You then record this agreement in your county’s Recorder of Deed’s office.
One of the advantages of a Partition and Exchange Agreement is that should you and your spouse later divorce, the property you received in the agreement remains your separate property and is not includable in any property settlement you may make at that time.
On the other hand, should you and your spouse reconcile and end your informal separation, the Partition and Exchange Agreement remains in effect unless and until you rescind it. If you fail to do so, you could find yourself at a distinct disadvantage if your spouse dies.
This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.