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Trial Separation in Texas

There are times when a spouse is not sure about divorce. The spouse may only want some time alone, or there might just be a crisis they have to hurdle. 

In any case, there are some counselors who would advise having time apart from each other. Are there any legal parameters for this kind of arrangement?

Legal vs Trial Separation

There are different types of separation. There is legal separation and trial separation. 

In a legal separation, there is an agreement by both spouses that they would live apart. But legally, they would still be married. The usual question is: why would they not just get a divorce instead? Legal Separation offers the same benefits to married couples.

These benefits include:

  • Community property
  • Healthcare coverage for the other spouse
  • The spouses can resume marital union at any time without any complications (because they are still legally married).

The state of Texas does not offer legal separation. Generally, a trial separation is only an informal agreement. However, the court may recognize it if in a legal document. You can agree in conditions and have a signed agreement. This option is for couples who are unsure of divorce but wants space from each other.

Making the Separation Agreement Binding

As trial or legal separation is not recognized by the state of Texas, there is no formal agreement required. What the separation agreement actually does is offer a level of accountability. If the judge signs the agreement, a court order may be issued for the custody terms, visitation rights, child support, etc.

The separation agreement then works as a legal contract when sought with the aid of the court. It is signed by both parties and the judge. The purpose is to have a written record of the conditions of the separation as agreed by both parties. 

Since it is already a legal document, the court can intervene if one party violates the terms of the agreement. This provides some security for both parties to abide by the agreement. 

While there is no legal requirement to have an attorney present when you file the separation agreement, it is always good practice to consult a lawyer before taking any legal measures. 

If any of the two spouses wish to end the relationship, then they should proceed and file a petition for divorce and undergo the process. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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