Planning on becoming legally separated in Texas? If so, there are a few things you should know. First, the state of Texas does not formally recognize legal separations. There are no statutes governing a temporary separation. This is disappointing for many couples to hear, since the benefits of legal separations are apparent in the states that allow for them. Statistics suggest that they encourage many couples to work out differences rather than to get divorced.
What does that mean for you? While you can’t be legally separated in Texas, there are a few measures you can take to protect yourself. Many couples see the value in living separately without a formal divorce. Each partner can seek out counseling if they wish, reevaluate their situation, and determine whether they want to divorce or reconcile.
If a couple decides to live apart, temporary orders can be a good way to establish boundaries and responsibilities. Unlike other marital matters in the separation, this is a court-ordered and facilitated agreement that will legally define each spouse’s rights and responsibilities relating to the children. Known as SAPCR orders, your attorney can help you facilitate this agreement with the courts to ensure that the agreement is fair and aligns with the family’s needs and values. If there are children, a temporary order can determine or enforce who will make decisions or be financially responsible for them.
It’s important to consider that these are temporary orders that could last for weeks, months, or years depending on what the parties decide. They also must be formally dissolved regardless of whether the couple reconciles.
The fact that you can’t be legally separated in Texas does not mean you must remain with your spouse until a divorce can be obtained. If you want to separate from your spouse but are unsure of your options, your next step should be to make an appointment with an experienced family law attorney. They can listen to the details of your situation and advise you on your options.