Monday, August 22, 2011

Legal Separation in Texas

There is no such thing as “legal separation” in Texas. The only legal proceeding for separation is divorce. Once a divorce is filed, the court can make temporary orders concerning the parties, their property, and their children. However, some couples fee they need to be “separated” for a time to determine if their relationship is reconcilable or if divorce is truly necessary. This can cause problems because property and finances may remain joint between the spouses while married.

While there is no such thing as legal separation in Texas, it is possible for spouses desiring a period of separation with separate finances and property to enter into various property agreements, changing the ownership of property from community to separate. However, the consequences of should be carefully considered.

Legally, the spouses would still be married, and may not be completely protected from financial decisions made by their spouse, no matter how careful their planning and detailed their property agreements. Additionally, once the nature of property is changed from community property to separate property, the change in property ownership will remain effective if the separation does in fact lead to a divorce, which may not have been the intent of one or both spouses. The same is also true if the parties do not get divorced, which may have an unintended effect on property distribution upon the death of one of the spouses.

Article by Sarah F. Berry.