Do You Have to be Separated for a Length of Time Before You can File for Divorce?
While the law does not require a marital separation before getting a divorce in Texas, there are other factors you need to consider.
For couples who are experiencing marital difficulties and contemplating filing for divorce , time spent apart from one another can provide a much needed break while allowing you to get some perspective on the relationship. While a separation is not required by law to obtain a divorce in Texas, few couples end their marriage without taking this step first. Before making a decision on such an important and potentially life-altering matter, the following offers some issues to consider.
No-fault divorce is one that is not filed on grounds of marital misconduct, such as adultery or habitual drunkenness. In many no-fault divorce states, courts demand that couples seeking this type of divorce undergo a period of separation first. While not fool-proof by any means, this requirement can help ensure that both parties in the relationship are firm in their decision and have tried to resolve their differences and reconcile their marriage in other ways.
Texas is among a handful of states that offer both grounds based and no-fault divorce, but in neither situation is a marital separation required. Under the Texas Family Code , the only requirements are:
● That you have been living in the state for the previous six month period; and
● Have been a resident of the county you file in for the preceding 90 days.
Otherwise, you are entitled to file a divorce petition, regardless of whether you and your partner have been separated a matter of months, weeks, or even days… or potentially, not separated at all but continuing to reside together.
While the no separation requirement may appear to offer Texas couples a certain amount of freedom, it does come at a cost:
● It does not speed up the divorce process. In some areas that require that the couple be living separate and apart prior to filing, once they do file for divorce it can be resolved in as little as 30 days. In Texas, divorce tends to be a more drawn-out process, averaging six months to a year or more.
● It does not offer the protections of legal separation. In Texas, not only is a separation not required, but it is not recognized by law. You are considered married up until the date your divorce is final. As a community property state, this means that not only assets but debts your spouse incurs will be considered as belonging to you both.
There are some legal actions you can take to protect your legal rights during this time, such as requesting a restraining order or filing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship .
If you are considering ending your marriage, John Powell III, P.C. can answer your questions and guide you through the options available. To request a confidential consultation, contact our Pearland divorce attorney today.