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Are Legal Separation and Divorce the Same in Texas?

Posted on in Divorce

TX divorce attorneyWhen a married couple feels as though their relationship is coming to an end but they have some reservations or want to stay married for personal reasons, they may choose to temporarily separate. Many states have an option that legally allows couples to separate without getting divorced, known as a “legal separation,” but legal separation as it exists in other states does not exist in Texas. If you think you may want to end your relationship but are not sure what your options are, speak with a Texas family law attorney.

Separating Without Getting Divorced

While a couple cannot get a legal separation, they can take steps that essentially provide many of the same outcomes. For example, a couple can ask their attorneys to create a petition and exchange agreement. This allows a couple to transfer marital property to one spouse or the other so it becomes the personal property of that spouse. Then, if the couple decides to get divorced later, the property in the petition and exchange order will not be part of the community property division. Spouses may also file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, or SAPCR, to make formal custody arrangements, including child support payments. A judge must approve the SAPCR, and once in place, it is legally binding.

A couple who wants to test the waters of divorce may decide to try an informal temporary separation before they pursue divorce. Sometimes couples get enough space and time through a temporary separation that they are able to reconcile their relationship. Other times, they proceed with a divorce. A temporary separation using a only verbal agreement is not legally enforceable, so couples who choose to go this route should be aware that they may be placing themselves in a risky legal position.


Divorce is the permanent, legal ending of a relationship through a court-enforced divorce decree. Couples must agree, or have the court agree for them, about issues like community property division, child support, alimony, and child custody. While most couples who divorce do not regret their decision, spouses should think carefully before initiating divorce proceedings because they can be challenging and costly, and, once a divorce is finalized, it cannot be undone.

Meet with a Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer

Understanding the difference between divorce and legal separation can help you make the right decision for you and your family. If you have questions or need legal advice, our experienced Fort Worth divorce attorneys can help you get the information you need and move forward with the next step in your relationship. Call the Clark Law Group today at 469-906-2266 to schedule a confidential consultation.




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