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Family Law

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Legal Separation

The dissolution of a marriage is difficult for any couple to undergo. However, the initial step of an informal separation provides both parties with the opportunity to experience life without the other party, without going through the full legal ramifications of a divorce. Sometimes couples simply need some time apart. Separation provides an avenue for certain couples who do not want to go through the stress and financial aspect of divorce and offers these couples the opportunity to experience life as a single individual, while still offering the opportunity of reconciliation.

Informal Legal Separation vs. Divorce

Texas, unlike other states, does not offer a legal separation. The only avenue for separation is divorce. Therefore, until a divorce is filed, a Texas court cannot provide couples with a legal separation. However, a family law attorney may help couples establish an informal divorce agreement, which both parties often agree to on their own terms, although these agreements will be based more in contract law than in family law. A separate legal agreement in addition to an informal separation agreement can help parties establish set guidelines for a separation period, without finalizing the separation.

Alternative Property Division

However, since Texas does not provide for legal separation, there is only so much an attorney can assist with in helping with property division without a full divorce proceeding. A couple may enter into a “partition and exchange” agreement which records the real property records of the parties and provides for a division of the property. This will assist in separation the parties’ property (despite the community property requirement of Texas) without going through a full divorce proceeding.

One advantage of this agreement is that it effectually separates out property between the parties and removes the community property aspect. Therefore, if the couple does eventually divorce, the division of property will be much easier since the property has already been divided. On the other hand, if the couple is able to work out their differences, they will not have gone through the turbulent and emotional divorce. The partition and exchange agreement will remain in effect until the parties agree to nullify it – therefore if the parties do reconcile, it is important that they reach out to the initial attorney to remove the agreement. Otherwise, upon the death of one of the parties, they may be surprised to learn that the property from this agreement remains separate and therefore may not be inherited.

Malley Law Firm | Houston Legal Separation Attorney

If you are going through an informal separation and have questions regarding the legal repercussions of the separation, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of the Malley Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling family law matters, including assisting our clients with a separation trial period. An informal separation offers the opportunity for couples to test the waters of separation without agreeing to a full-fledged divorce proceeding. Contact our Beaumont or Houston offices today for your initial free consultation.


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