The short answer is… ‘No’. The long answer is… ‘No’.
Although legal separation is available and sometimes had in many states, Texas doesn’t have legal separation. In order to protect your interests regarding your property and your children if you are separated from your spouse, you must file for divorce and obtain temporary orders from the Court.
It is important to talk with a family law attorney before separating from your spouse. There are many options available that you may not even be aware of. Some of my clients were afraid they would have to leave their home and their children because they wanted a divorce. You may not be required to leave. You may be able to stay in the home with your children and have the other spouse continue to pay for the expenses of the household. The only way you will know what options fit your family is to speak with an attorney that will listen to you and your goals. It is better to know your options and have a plan before you take action than to try to work with what options might remain after you make those first moves.
Please note that during a separation, the State of Texas continues to identify certain things as community property. Simply living separately from your spouse does not create separate property. Can you believe that I’ve had clients that were separated for 10 – 15 years? They were very deeply disappointed to find out that their pension, retirement accounts, and savings account during that time of separation would be divided by the court and likely one-half of it all would be awarded to the other spouse that they have not resided within 10 – 15 years.
Additional factors that occur during separation include additional children. Some people decide to continue their lives as if they had already been divorced. Additional children, additional assets, and additional debt…. are all considerations that can delay and complicate a divorce after a long separation.
Do yourself a favor, and talk to a qualified family law attorney before you do anything. Some options may include counseling and gathering information prior to filing for your divorce. First, you have to have a plan. Hoping for the best is NOT a plan!
Protect yourself and don’t rely on the advice of neighbors, family members, or things you hear on TV or see on the Internet. Get the right advice and direction from an attorney. You and your family are unique. This is what we do!
So, unless you want to be separated from more of your assets, more of your belongings, and more of your hard-earned money, you need to file for divorce and get court orders. Do not remain separated for a long period of time without these steps. Remember….the closure a divorce can provide allows you to begin the rest of your life!