If you and your spouse want to maintain separate lifestyles but not go through the Texas divorce process, you may be considering legal separation as a practical solution to your situation. However, many couples do not realize that there are complicated issues involved.
In fact, “legal separation” in Texas is a misnomer. The Lone Star State does not recognize it, so it may not be a good fit for your family.
You should discuss your circumstances and options with a knowledgeable family law attorney, but some answers to common questions may help you understand the concept.
WHAT IS LEGAL SEPARATION IN TEXAS?
In short, a legal separation is an arrangement where you agree with your spouse to go through some aspects of a divorce – without actually dissolving your marriage.
Being legally separated is an unofficial status for spouses who seek to remain married by law, but want to have distinct lifestyles. Under the right circumstances, legal separation allows you to accomplish certain objectives via agreement rather than through divorce.
HOW DO WE HANDLE PROPERTY AND ALIMONY?
Because legal separation falls outside Texas divorce laws, you have almost unlimited options for dividing marital assets and dealing with alimony.
You are not subject to equitable distribution laws on property, which would require a court to divvy up your assets according to what is fair. There are no questions regarding whether alimony is appropriate and how much it should be. You and your spouse are free to agree on whatever arrangement works for you.
CAN WE ADDRESS ISSUES REGARDING CHILD CUSTODY, VISITATION, AND SUPPORT?
You also have considerable leeway in regards to care for your minor children, though you will need to comply with state law on the child’s best interests standard. Parents always have rights and responsibilities related to children, and legal separation in Texas does not change this.
IS IT OK TO DATE AND/OR REMARRY?
Through legal separation, you and your spouse agree to live distinct lifestyles. However, you are still married in the eyes of the law. You can date as long as you stay within the confines of your agreement, but you cannot legally remarry.
WHAT IF SOMEONE BREACHES THE AGREEMENT?
Your legal separation agreement is a contract like any other. You can sue for breach of contract if your spouse does not comply with contractual terms. Your remedy is to sue in court and seek damages that you suffer because your spouse did not perform according to the contract.
Of course, you can always file for divorce and go through the official, legal process of divorce. A court would decide issues on asset division, alimony, and child custody, visitation, and support.
Discuss Your Situation with an Austin Family Law and Divorce Attorney
If you would like to know more about your rights and options for legal separation in Texas, please contact the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC. The laws are very different as compared to other states, so it is important to get a clear explanation on how separation works. You can call (512) 489-9820 to schedule an appointment, or go online to learn more about our services in the area of family law and divorce.