Unfortunately, the state of Texas has no legal mechanism for legal separation, as many states do. This can certainly present a dilemma for those couples in the state who want to live apart but are not certain about a divorce. Because there is no legal separation in the state, an attorney can work out an informal separation agreement, which will allow both parties a period of time away from one another—time to heal, to go to counseling, to put the marriage back together.
Among couples whose financial affairs are more complex, an attorney may be able to use a partition and exchange agreement which will allow the transfer of marital property to one spouse, so that it becomes that spouse’s separate property. A partition and exchange agreement could potentially remain in effect for years—or a lifetime. A major advantage of such an agreement is that if or when the couple decides to divorce, the property partitioned to a spouse is that spouse’s separate property.
A disadvantage of such an agreement is that if the couple resumes living together and fails to undo the partition and exchange agreement, then upon the death of one of the spouses, the agreement remains in full force and effect. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure about divorce but need to spend some time apart from your spouse, speaking to an attorney from Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. can make a significant difference in how your future plays out. We understand all the issues involved and will work hard to make sure your interests are properly protected.
Temporary Orders as An Alternative to Divorce
Rather than filing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, a couple that is considering divorce can file the necessary divorce paperwork, asking the court to issue temporary orders until such time as the divorce is final. These temporary orders will include most of the things that a legal separation would include, such as payment of monthly expenses by each spouse, temporary spousal support, if warranted, temporary custody orders, and child support payments. What these temporary orders will not contain is the final division of assets, which will not be determined until the divorce is in process.
Protective Orders for Victims of Domestic Violence
A protective order is sometimes seen as at least somewhat similar to a legal separation because a protective order can determine where the children will live and who will have access to the children. A protective order can also let the spouses know which one will be able to stay in the marital home, and which one will be required to leave. Spousal support and child support can be established under a Texas protective order. However, it is important to understand that protective orders will typically expire after two years.
While Texas does not allow a legal separation, they do allow either a property partition agreement or a contractual separation agreement. These agreements can govern the conduct of spouses prior to a Texas divorce. These agreements are considered contracts, therefore, are not court orders to be enforced by a judge. What this means is that if one spouse disobeys the agreement, the judge cannot punish that spouse or hold him or her in contempt.
The only resolution to a spouse disobeying one of these types of agreements is a civil lawsuit brought by one spouse against the other for breach of contract. There are disadvantages to property partition agreements and contractual separation agreements, as noted above, and these agreements can potentially result in lengthier court processes should a divorce be instigated.
Some people actually believe the fact that there is no legal separation in the state of Texas tends to keep marriages together by forcing couples to determine whether they want to divorce or remain married. The state of Texas views a legal separation as something akin to “limbo,”—neither married nor divorced.
Speaking to a Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. Family Law Attorney Regarding Alternatives to Legal Separation
If you want a legal separation and are dismayed to find the state of Texas does not offer legal separations, it can be very beneficial to speak to a knowledgeable Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. family law attorney to discuss your options. We understand this is an emotional, difficult time for you and your family, and we will work hard to minimize the difficulties.
At Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P., we can provide you with a top family law attorney in Arlington, Texas, who will work hard on your behalf to ensure you end up with the best future possible. Our highly experienced attorneys know the staff and judges in the local family courts, understanding their preferences and how they typically handle cases. You will hear from us on a regular basis when you place your trust in our hands. To schedule a meeting with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys, contact Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. today.