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Is legal separation a divorce alternative in Texas?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Divorce |

Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a formal process for legal separation as an alternative to ending one’s marriage.

In other words, if a resident of the greater Galveston and Houston area wants to live apart from their spouse and protect their legal rights, they way to do that is through a divorce.

If the couple wants to stay married but live separately, Texas courts do not have a simple mechanism for dividing their property and issuing court orders regarding parenting and spousal and child support.

Even so, there are people in Galveston and Harris counties who may be reluctant to divorce their spouses.

A divorce legally ends the marital relationship. For religious or moral reasons, some people may not wish to do this. Others may have emotional, financial or other reasons why they do not want to divorce.

Still others may be open to the idea of a divorce, but they just want additional time to make such an important and permanent decision.

Those who want to avoid or delay divorce but need protection have other options

While Texans wanting to avoid or delay divorce might have a more difficult path to trod than they would in other states, there are other ways in which they can use family law to protect their legal rights.

  • A couple can file for a divorce and ask the court to enter temporary orders regarding their children and their property. The idea would be that the couple never finalizes their divorce and thus remains legally married. The downside of this option is that the court and both spouses must stay on the same page, at least enough to keep the status quo.
  • If there is an issue with domestic violence, the victim can get a protective order which can cover a lot of the same ground as would a divorce decree. The drawbacks are that a person wanting a protective order must prove their case, and the order expires after 2 years.
  • Texans are allowed to pursue court orders regarding the care of their children and child support without filing for a divorce. This option can solve some important family law problems, but it does not address either the division of property and debt or spousal support.
  • A couple can enter a separation agreement under which they agree to the division of their property and debts while staying married. They key here is that the spouses will have to resolve their differences.

Which option or combination of options is best will depend on a person’s individual situation.