When a couple is going through a tough time, they may want to separate but not get divorced. Under Texas law, there is no official status for legal separation short of divorce, but this is still an arrangement that many couples look for. Our Dallas legal separation attorneys can help you build a separation agreement and manage other aspects of separation under TX law.
Whether your separation is a step on the road to divorce or a measure all on its own, the attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm might be able to help. Call us today to schedule a confidential legal consultation on your case and learn more about how our attorneys can help. To set up your case consultation, call us at (817) 476-1797.
How to File for Legal Separation in Dallas, TX
As mentioned, Texas law has no system for legal separation. While some states have separation as an intermediate step between marriage and divorce, Texas does not. This leaves couples with two legal options: stay married or get divorced. Just because there is no system for legal divorce does not mean that couples have to continue to live together, and there are many legal options for how a couple can move apart and stay married.
If you and your spouse want to move out of the same house and start living separately, you have every right to do that. If two spouses want to live in separate households, there is nothing in the law that can force them to stay together. However, couples should be cautious because living apart is grounds for divorce in Texas. That means that if you live separately for 3 years, your spouse can use that as the basis to file for divorce, and the court will typically grant the divorce.
When two spouses begin living separately, there may be complications that arise regarding how to divide shared resources and community property and how to deal with child custody and support issues. Many of these issues can be worked out in the courts and with separation agreements.
Separation Agreements in Dallas, TX
If you and your spouse aim to move apart and continue to stay married, it is often in both parties’ best interests to create a formal separation agreement. An agreement like this can coordinate who will get access to what property, how the parties will split assets, and how to resolve other legal issues.
Since separated spouses are still legally married in Texas, they will still continue to share ownership of community property, and they will still have the same rights they normally would as spouses. A separation agreement can, among other things, limit this access by having each spouse formally agree that their assets and income will be separate.
You can also formally agree on how to deal with other legal issues arising from the separation, such as how to split child custody and child support.
Legal Issues in Dallas Separation Cases
When you and your spouse want a legal separation, there are a few legal issues that could arise. As mentioned, asset division, income division, and any other financial issues usually need to be worked out.
Child custody (called a “conservatorship” under Texas law) and child support will also be big legal issues in many separation cases. If you have shared children who live with you and your spouse, things will change when you are separated. If the parents move apart to live separately, you can involve the courts to grant custody and support orders. Even though you might still be married, the courts can get involved any time parents live separately, issuing orders about who has custody and how much time they get with the kids. They can also issue orders about how much either party needs to pay in support to cover the costs of raising the children.
If you and your spouse can sit down with your lawyers and come to an agreement on child custody, visitation, and support, then you might not need to involve the courts. Parents can agree to terms that the court might not have otherwise chosen, potentially giving you more flexibility to control your own case. Talk to a lawyer about including such terms in a separation agreement. If negotiations fail, you can take the custody and support aspects of your case to court.
Separation Before Divorce in Dallas
If you are using separation as a stepping stone toward divorce, you might be able to use a separation agreement and other negotiations now as a way of saving time later when your divorce case comes to court. Dealing with issues of property division, child custody, and child support now means that there is less to deal with later when you get divorced.
Some divorce cases require that the parties lived apart for 3 years before the divorce. The date of separation will be determined, in part, by a separation agreement or by clear evidence of a move-out date. During those 3 years of living separately, you will need to arrange financial matters and childcare issues, so approaching a lawyer for help with the separation stage is important.
If you are living separately for just a few months while the divorce case is filed based on other grounds, you will still have immediate legal issues to deal with. Even if the separation is only for a few months during a divorce case, you might be entitled to child custody and some asset division. You could also be entitled to spousal maintenance and support (alimony) during the divorce process. This can help you afford somewhere to live and pay for a lawyer, even if your spouse typically controls the finances in your household.
Call Our Dallas Legal Separation Lawyers for Help with Your Case Today
While Texas law does not explicitly provide for an official legal separation, there are many ways spouses can arrange living separately. If you are looking to separate from your spouse in the Dallas area, call The Queenan Law Firm’s Dallas legal separation lawyers today. Our attorneys offer confidential case consultations to help you understand your legal situation and what steps to take to protect yourself, your property, and your child custody rights. Call (817) 476-1797 today for a case consultation.