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Does Texas Recognize Legal Separation?

We have talked elsewhere about the lack of recognition of same-sex marriage in Texas. The option for gender-neutral marriage or divorce in Texas does not exist. There is also no possibility of legal separation.

Many people consider separation a preliminary condition of divorce. One partner moves out, a divorce is filed, and the process of dissolving the marriage follows. Certain other states in the country provide for legal separation, a formal arrangement between marriage and divorce. Parties enter into legal separation through a signed document that sets forth relevant agreements about issues like child custody and support, property division and spousal maintenance.

Under a legal separation, the rights and property of the parties are protected, but the couple no longer resides together. Outside Texas, legal separation is filed for various reasons, including:

  • A desire to protect property and continue to work on saving a marriage
  • Avoidance of religious censure or stigma for divorce
  • Accommodation of one party without health insurance or a desire to maximize other financial benefits

Without the ability to legally separate in Texas, some couples use a partition and exchange agreement to divide and designate property as separate. These agreements protect the financial position of each partner while they remain married. Upon divorce, separate assets defined in a properly executed partition and exchange agreement are not reconsidered for division during a divorce proceeding.

Even if conditions change and a couple reconciles their personal and financial differences, the partition agreement remains in force until legally cancelled. A forgotten partition agreement, however, impacts disposition of property if one party passes away while the agreement in effect.

If you are considering divorce or are concerned about protection of assets, speak with an experienced Houston family law attorney.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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