Legal Separation or Divorce?

Which is the better choice, a legal separation or a divorce?  The question of choosing a legal separation instead of divorce is an easy question in Texas.  Texas doesn’t have legal separation and only has divorce.  Here are a few things about legal separation and divorce in Texas.

Texas Family Code

In Texas, there is no legal separation.  Legal separation isn’t recognized and so even if two spouses actually have separated they are still married. And, since there aren’t any provisions for it or statutes about it in the Texas Family Code, it can be a surprise in my office when we start discussing what can happen.  In Texas, people are considered married until the divorce is final.

Child Support

However, child support cannot be ordered by a court during this informal separation time.  The court system isn’t involved in the separation so there isn’t an opportunity to get any court orders during that time.  Child support can be ordered while a divorce is pending.

Spousal Support

There is not any spousal support during an informal separation time either.  In the eyes of the court system, until a petition for divorce is filed there isn’t an avenue for a court to get involved or to issue orders.  Temporary spousal support can be ordered while waiting for the divorce to be final.


But, the other side of that is to know that even if two spouses live in separate locations, they are still married.  Community property is still an important concept during that time because money earned and property purchased are considered community property during the marriage.  Also, increases in value to assets and investments and contributions as well as increases to retirement such as 401k accounts will be analyzed under the community property presumptions during a marriage.

Debts and Liabilities

Debts and liabilities during an informal separation period still fall under the rules for those items accumulated during marriage.  Outstanding debts, such as with real property, will continue to need to be paid.  Again, the court system is not going to make orders for debt payment during an informal separation.  Once a petition for divorce is filed, orders can be put in place that require payment of certain liabilities and debts while the divorce is pending.

Jill O’Connell is an experienced Denton County divorce attorney.  For legal advice, she is happy to discuss these questions and any others you may have by appointment.  Call today, 9772-203-6644.

You might also be interested in:

Child Support 

Texas Divorce Basics

5 Things to Know about Texas Child Support