Legal separation is not recognized in Texas divorces.
However, your conduct during a period of informal separation can impact the terms of your divorce.
As an example: Let’s assume that you and your spouse have reached a tentative agreement on the division of property and custody, so you decide to separate and work out the details later. Once you leave the house your spouses’ desire to be separated may have been satisfied.
Since you can’t file for legal separation in Texas, this affords your spouse the ability to make arbitrary settlement demands and delay the resolution of your divorce, perhaps being additionally driven by new feelings of resentment or retribution.
Your staying together could give you the leverage necessary to expedite the divorce. The more your spouse wants a divorce, the more concessions they are usually willing to make when it comes to community property and children.
Caution: If you believe the possibility of physical violence exists, you should not risk your safety for strategic settlement consideration. You should remove yourself from any situation you consider to be dangerous.
If custody and visitation may ultimately become contested issues, leaving your house during separation may also have an impact on the conservatorship the Court awards.
If you leave the residence, and subsequently your spouse and child(ren), it may be viewed through a framework of abandonment of your family. A good tenet to keep in mind is that the possession and access you and your spouse adopt during the separation often is a guideline used by the Court to establish the possession the Court will order in the divorce decree.
If you take weekend visitation, the Court will be likely to award weekend visitation. Similarly if you and your spouse share custody during the separation, the Court will be more likely to award joint custody.
Without having a compelling reason, the Court generally doesn’t like to change the status quo. That is why it is important that you consider conservatorship issues before physically moving out of your home.
Community Assets and Financial Stability During the Divorce Process
If it is likely your divorce may become contested, the easiest way to guarantee your financial stability, and to facilitate a reasonable settlement, is to take control of available community property and transfer it to your exclusive use prior to separation or filing.
Notwithstanding, this may entail a significant and unsavory downside, as it can quickly make the divorce process considerably more adversarial. However, if it is likely your divorce will be contested, and your continued financial stability may be threatened, a joint savings or checking account is the most liquid asset for immediate financial needs. It is much easier for you to give your spouse half of what you transferred than to argue for the Court to award you your half.
If most of the community assets are in your spouses name, it is critical to get into court as soon as possible and get Temporary Orders. Financial instability may prompt you to adopt a division which is less than fair, and the longer your spouse has sole access to community property, the easier it will be for them to hide or secret these assets.
Dating During the Divorce Process
Typically casual dating won’t affect the Court’s division of property or the custody of the children.
If you begin to spend considerable amounts of time with a new person, or if it comes out you spent the night with this person in a hotel room, it may create an image of you as having questionable judgment, especially if child custody is a contested issue.
If your dating makes your spouse upset or jealous however, it may make them unreasonable. A vindictive spouse can quickly make a divorce an expensive, time consuming, and emotionally draining process, as well as a considerable source of confusion for your child(ren). Your desire should be to stay amicable and rational with your spouse throughout the process.
Avoiding Adversity and Contention During the Divorce Process
Divorce is an emotionally charged process; the following guidelines will make things easier on you, despite what your initial response may be. Once it becomes likely your marriage is going to be dissolved with divorce, avoiding adversity and contention from the beginning makes it markedly easier to continue on a course of minimal stress, during an already extremely trying time.
- If you no longer love your spouse, substitute courtesy.
- Always be skeptical.
- Information is power; don’t tell your spouse more than you need to.
- Walk away from heated arguments or conflict.
- Expect your spouse to resent your lawyer and attempt to undermine your trust and confidence in your attorney.
- Do not enter private negotiations without your lawyer’s knowledge and advice. Your lawyer has a unique ability to use absent authority on your behalf, as well as the experience and knowledge related to the process you have undertaken.
- Don’t make agreements or sign anything without talking to your lawyer first.
- Use your lawyer as a buffer, learn to say “talk to your lawyer and have him talk to mine.”
- Don’t rub in your legal victories. Losers try to get even.