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Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?

If your marital relationship has broken down beyond the point of repair and you are contemplating divorce, there is a good chance the concept of legal separation has also crossed your mind. Through conversations with others and some basic research, you may have discovered that legal separation is often the more economical option. You may get along with your spouse well enough that you can remain legally married, while still living separate lives and being there for your children. Considering that divorce can be costly and time-consuming, it is understandable that financial considerations make legal separation a wise choice.

However, legal separation is not an option in Texas. Unless you go through dissolution of marriage proceedings and obtain your final divorce decree, you are still married in the eyes of the law. The good news is that there are legal strategies to obtain an outcome that is similar in many ways. It is essential to consult with a Texas divorce lawyer who can assess your goals and help you achieve them, as you could put important rights at risk. You might also benefit from a summary of the laws, as well as information on financial factors when comparing legal separation and divorce.

Work-Arounds For Achieving Legal Separation In Texas

State law may not recognize separation, but there are options for accomplishing the same goals. There are still legal requirements, so you do not sidestep the courtroom by moving forward with this non-divorce option. What you can do is resolve many of the same issues that arise in divorce, namely property division and spousal support. You may even address conservatorship, possession, access, and support for minor children, though always remember that the child’s best interests are paramount.

Options for achieving an arrangement that is akin to legal separation include: 

  1. Temporary Orders: Once you file for divorce, you can obtain orders in connection with any issue relating to children or property before the court. If you can reach an agreement on asset division, spousal support, and care for children, the court can enter it as an official order that remains in effect until the divorce is finalized or the parties reconcile.
  1. Protective Orders: Commonly associated with domestic violence situations, you can file a petition for a protective order without filing for divorce. If a protective order is warranted, it may restrict a party from having contact with the victim spouse and children.
  1. Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR): This type of lawsuit is similar to legal separation, and it may be an option where you do not want to file for divorce to get a temporary order. You can file the SAPCR to request the court determine issues on custody, visitation, and support.

Financial Considerations On Separation Versus Divorce

Every case is unique, so it is not possible to know the exact financial benefits of legal separation or divorce. Some factors that impact cost include:

  • Your Relationship with Your Spouse: Much of a legal separation is accomplished by agreement, so disputes increase costs.
  • High Net Worth or Complicated Assets: Dividing property starts by classifying it as community or separate, then distributing it equitably between the parties. The legal issues and technicalities are complex when it comes to interests in a business, real estate holdings, trusts, and investment accounts.
  • Extensive Debt: If you have incurred significant community debt, both parties remain obligated to creditors because you are not divorcing.

A Texas Divorce Attorney Can Assist With Legal Requirements

While you cannot obtain an exact dollar figure on whether legal separation or divorce is more financially sound, this information should help you understand the economic factors. If you are considering your options, you can benefit from consulting with our experienced lawyers at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC. Please contact our offices in Houston, TX today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team. After we review your circumstances, we can help you make informed choices regarding legal separation and divorce in Texas.

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