DOES TEXAS RECOGNIZE LEGAL SEPARATION?
When Texas couples have a marital dispute that’s too serious to repair, divorce may be the only option. Texas, unlike most other states, does not legally recognize separation.
This has consequences at the end of a marriage because Texas is a community property state. Everything that was owned by the couple remains marital property, subject to property division in a divorce, even though spouses may live apart or keep separate residences.
Couples, however, can agree to a contractual separation instead of seeking temporary orders from a court. They may enter a separation agreement that is a legally-binding contract, which does not require a court proceeding.
Spouses seeking a contractual separation negotiate and enter an agreement that is binding and settles some of the issues when a marriage ends. The spouses usually separate their debts and assets, settle property division matters and agree to provisions providing for their children’s care.
This contract does not legally end the marriage, even though the couple lives separately. A separation agreement may, though, serve as the basis for court-issued divorce decree or an annulment order erasing a marriage that was illegal or not valid.
A spouse does not file a complaint seeking separation or for these agreements nor do they have to file for divorce or annulment. Moreover, courts do not issue orders approving or enforcing these agreements or play a role with their negotiation.
Violations of this agreement are treated as a breach of contract. When this occurs, the other spouse may file a civil lawsuit and ask the court for an order mandating that the spouse comply with the terms of the agreement.
These settlement contracts, like prenuptial agreements, can help resolve issues when a couple ends their marriage.