Separation is a scenario under which married couples physically live apart but are not divorced. This is not uncommon in a marriage that is headed for divorce, and most couples who plan to divorce live apart before filing for divorce and/or before their divorces are finalized.
For some couples, a separation allows them time to reflect on their marriage, attend counseling, and spend time apart to consider their options and what is right for their family. Some ultimately may decide to divorce, while others decide to reconcile and remain married.
Some states allow a legal separation during which the court can make rulings concerning matters such as custody, support and property division. The state of Texas, however, does not recognize nor grant legal separations. But spouses who wish to separate still may live apart prior to divorce – they may even enter into temporary agreements that outline several issues commonly addressed in divorce cases.
How Texas Courts Deal with “Separation”
While Texas does not allow legal separation, it does allow couples to make temporary agreements prior to a divorce decree. When couples file for divorce, they also can file for temporary orders that spell out how they want all mutual matters, e.g., child support, custody and property division, to be handled in the interim.
A temporary order may be written to cover a time period of several months or several years, depending upon the couple’s circumstances and needs.
Granted, there are some couples who truly want only a separation and are not ready to file for divorce. For this type of situation, one party can work with a lawyer, draw up contractual agreement concerning all pertinent marital issues, and then petition the courts. Some of the documents that may be applicable include:
- Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR);
- community property division agreement; and
- partition and exchange agreement. font-size: 1rem;”>
Devising an Informal Agreement
If you’d like to devise an informal agreement as you contemplate or file for divorce, enlist the help of a local attorney familiar with divorce and family law. These types of agreements must be drawn up in a certain format that meets Texas guidelines and must be exceptionally detailed.
In the agreement, you can stipulate how to handle everything from the big matters (who keeps the kids during the school year) down to the minutiae (who gets to keep the lawn mower) and everything in between.
Once signed by the parties and the judge, they will be legally binding documents. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure everything you want is clearly spelled out in the temporary orders and that you understand everything that the agreement contains. You don’t want to agree inadvertently to something that you’ll later regret.
Need Help with Your Divorce? Contact Julie Johnson in Dallas
The Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC provides consultations and can help you devise your informal separation agreement, file for divorce and handle all the stressful matters expediently. Call today: (214) 290-8001.