Texas Legal Separation Laws

Relationships can be hard, and sometimes a couple needs a little breathing space to figure things out. In a marriage, this can be achieved through a legal separation, where spouses are still legally married, but living apart and under court orders relating to finances and child support. However, not all states allow for this alternative to divorce. Texas is such a state, as it has no laws allowing for a legal separation.

Regardless, there are other mechanisms to allow for a de facto separation in Texas, such as temporary orders or court ordered marital counseling while a divorce is pending. The major difference with other states, though, is that separation is not a permanent legal status, as a couple is either married or divorced in Texas.

Couples can also enter into formal agreements while married, to define their rights and responsibilities relating to property or children. This may be preferable for couples who want to preserve their legal union while living apart because they want to remain eligible for certain benefits or because of their religious beliefs. A couple that achieves a satisfactory de facto separation during their divorce case can always withdraw their petition and fall back on any written agreements if they want to preserve their legal union.

Texas Legal Separation Laws: Overview

Review the chart below to learn more about the Texas divorce process as well as ways to achieve some form of marital separation in the state.

Statutes
  • Texas Family Code Section 6.001 (describing grounds for filing a divorce)
  • Texas Family Code Section 6.502 (authorizing courts to issue temporary orders in a divorce case to preserve property, provide support or set spending limits)
  • Texas Family Code Section 6.505 (authorizing courts to order spouses into counseling while divorce is pending)
  • Texas Family Code Section 4.102 (allowing for partition or exchange agreements among spouses)
  • Texas Family Code Section 102.001 (suits affecting the parent-child relationship)
Grounds for Divorce

On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

Counseling

While a divorce suit is pending, the court may direct the parties to counsel with a person named by the court.

Defenses to Divorce Petition

Condonation is a defense to a suit for divorce only if the court finds that there is a reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources

Learn More About Texas Legal Separation Laws from an Attorney

As you can see, because Texas doesn't offer permanent legal separation status for married couples, achieving some form of separation while married is a little more complicated. However, there may be ways to achieve your goals through the court system or through a private agreement. Speak with an experienced family law attorney near you today to learn more and receive personalized legal advice based on your specific situation.

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