Does Texas Recognize Legal Separation?

An upset couple.

You may be having marital challenges, and feel like you need some time apart, but you’re not ready to call it quits. Maybe you’ve heard of the concept of legal separation, but you don’t know what it means and how it differs from divorce.

Unfortunately, unlike most other states, Texas does not recognize legal separation. If you live separately for a period of time, that can be grounds for an at-fault divorce, but it’s important to understand that, absent any other valid and enforceable agreement between you and your spouse, most property that either of you acquire, as well as most debts, will still be considered a part of the marital estate and will be subject to the community property laws of Texas.

As an alternative to legal separation or the filing of a divorce, you can enter into a separation agreement. This is essentially a binding contract with terms that establish the rights and responsibilities of both parties. While the separation agreement won’t legally terminate your marriage, it can be used to address issues related to custody, visitation and marital property.

However, the separation agreement is something that you negotiate without the intervention or direction of the court. Accordingly, the terms of the agreement can be just about anything upon which both parties agree. The court won’t get involved unless one of the parties fails to abide by the terms of the agreement. This can be a risky proposition if one of the parties is able to exert undue influence or engages in misrepresentation. On the contrary, in a divorce proceeding, while the parties can negotiate their own property settlements, the court will customarily have final review of the agreement, to ensure there’s no duress, undue influence or fraud.

Contact the Law Office of Len Conner & Associates

For experienced counsel in family law matters, contact our office online or call us at 972-445-1500 (toll free at 877-613-5800). Your first consultation is free of charge.

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Len Conner & Associates

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Irving, Texas 75062

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