Each state sets its own laws and procedures for divorce and other family law matters. In many states, you can seek a legal separation from the court, which will set the terms of your separation. Such terms can address property division, financial support, child custody, and more.
Texas, however, is a state without any type of legal separation. You cannot seek even a temporary order from the court until you have filed for divorce. Many spouses separate with the hope of working on the marriage and eventual reconciliation, so they do not want to file for divorce right away. Other spouses will live separately long-term but remain married for financial or religious reasons. In these situations, it is important to know your options when a legal separation is not available.
Issues a court will address apart from a divorce case include child-related matters, including child custody and child support. If you are having a difficult time determining how to share custody during separation, or if your spouse will not adhere to your agreement, you can file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). This initiates a case seeking a custody and child support determination from the court.
Informal Separation Agreements
Even though the court will not make property or financial decisions for you during your separation period, nothing stops you and your spouse from entering into your own separation agreement out of court. Spouses can enter into contracts just like other parties, and a separation agreement is a contract that sets terms you will abide by while you are separated.
This type of agreement can include the following terms and more:
- Who gets what property, including access to real estate, vehicles, personal property, financial accounts, and more
- Whether one spouse will help support the other financially, especially if there is significant income discrepancy between the spouses
- How the spouses will share custody and financial support of the children - if the parents can agree, they might not need to involve the courts in a SAPCR
If one spouse violates the separation agreement, there can be legal repercussions, just like any other type of contract. If you decide to move back in together, you can simply rescind the contract.
These contracts should be properly drafted with terms that address all necessary matters, so you want an attorney to draft this agreement. You should also have guidance regarding when it might be time to get the courts involved with child custody and support issues.
Contact a Texas Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Options
The Law Office of J. Kevin Clark knows the different challenges you may face while you are separated but still married. While you are waiting to see if you can reconcile, you should not have to be concerned about how you will cover your bills or when you will see your children. Instead, you should discuss all of your options for separation with an experienced Fort Worth family law attorney.