Marriages are work. Sometimes, you need a break from it. You and your spouse may decide to separate. In some states, a legal separation is required before you can file for divorce with the idea that during the separation, you can decide if divorce is indeed what you want. Regardless of the reason for the separation, you should do it right. There are things to consider, like property and children, that can make a separation messy if you don't put some thought into it first.
Legal Separation in Texas
We've all heard the term “legal separation” used, but what is it exactly? How does it differ from a divorce?
Legal separation, unlike a non-legally binding separation, typically means a court has approved the separation and the agreement, which outlines things like property and asset division, child custody, and financial responsibilities, including alimony and child support. When two parties are legally separated, they live separate lives as though they are divorced but are still actually married. A divorce, on the other hand, means that the parties are no longer married and are free to marry someone else if they choose.
There are different reasons why couples choose to pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce. Some see a legal separation as a time to take a break from a marriage when they are still unsure they want a divorce. Others choose a legal separation for religious reasons.
What are the Grounds for Legal Separation in Texas?
Generally, the grounds for legal separation are similar to the grounds for divorce. Examples of what may be considered grounds for legal separation include:
- Domestic Violence
Can a Legal Separation include Spousal Support, Child Custody, and Child Support?
Yes, a legal separation may include matters typically addressed in a divorce, including spousal support, child custody, and child support.
Spousal support is money that one spouse is court-ordered to pay another spouse. The courts consider different factors when determining whether or not to order spousal support, such as the reason for the separation, the age of the parties, and the financial condition of each party.
Child custody is a hot topic when couples separate. The court will issue an order that defines who and when one party has custody of the children. The order stays in place until the parties divorce or reconcile. If the parties choose to divorce, a child custody arrangement already in place may be used to determine the best plan for child custody in the final divorce papers. Child custody is a matter separate and apart from child support.
When parties are legally separated, the amount of child support that shall be paid from one party to another can be addressed. Some of the factors that a court may consider when deciding whether or not to award child support, and in what amount, include:
- Time spent with each parent
- Income of each parent
- Any special needs the child may have
A child support calculator, based on these and other monetary factors, is used to determine the amount.
How can a Family Law Attorney in San Antonio Help with a Legal Separation?
If you are married and considering a legal separation, a family law attorney can help you throughout the process. By sitting down and learning the particulars of your situation, a family law attorney in San Antonio can advise the best way to proceed under the laws of your jurisdiction. They can help you:
- Determine whether or not you are entitled to spousal support, and the amount
- Determine whether or not you are entitled to child support, and the amount
- File and serve any necessary paperwork on your behalf
- Proceed with a divorce
Ultimately, an attorney is someone who knows the law and is your advocate, making sure that you and any children receive what's in your best interests.