In some states, you may seek legal separation without filing for divorce. There may be good reasons to do so, including access to health and other insurance benefits. The state of Texas has no provision for legal separation. You may believe that, under the community property laws of Texas, if you live separately from your spouse, that any property you acquire falls outside of the marital estate. This is not how the law in Texas has been construed. If you remain married, even though you live apart, all property obtained is community property, unless you obtain a temporary order from the court.
In Texas, before you enter into a divorce proceeding, you may execute a written agreement with your ex-spouse regarding all matters related to a potential divorce. This is commonly referred to as a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This agreement can address any divorce concern, including:
• Custody and visitation rights
• Child support obligations
• Disposition of marital property, including the use of the marital residence during the pendency of the divorce
• Tax concerns
• Alimony or spousal support
• Allocation of marital debt
Because a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement is a legally binding contract, you do not need to file the document with the court for it to be effective. The use of such an agreement can significantly simplify your divorce proceedings, as it will demonstrate to the court that you are involved in an uncontested divorce.
Be aware, though, that even if the parties have willingly entered into a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, if you seek to use the agreement as the basis for an uncontested divorce proceeding, the court will have to review and approve the terms of your agreement. When doing so, the court will generally consider whether the terms are fair to both parties, and whether it appears that one party signed under duress or coercion.
Contact the Law Offices of Pfister Borserine & Associates
At Pfister Borserine & Associates, we bring two decades of experience to people throughout north Texas. Attorney John Pfister is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We have the experience to know that every case is unique, and that the strategy that works for one client may not meet the needs of others. We can help you protect your rights in court, or can work with you to resolve your family law differences through alternative means, including negotiated settlements or mediation.