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Do I Have to Be Separated from My Spouse Before Filing for Divorce in Texas?

If you are considering filing for a divorce in Texas, you must go through several steps to ensure that the termination of your marriage is lawful. However, being separated from your spouse is not one of the requirements of this process. Regardless of you and your spouse have been living together or apart, you can pursue a divorce. However, there are some important things to note about where you and your spouse lived before taking legal action. We'll discuss them further in this blog.

Residency Requirements for a Divorce in Texas

One of the first steps in petitioning for a divorce is ensuring that either you or your spouse lived in the state and county you're filing in for the requisite amount of time. At least one of you must have resided in the state for 6 months or more and the county for 90 days or more.

Thus, if you and your spouse are separated and have each moved out of the state for more than 6 months, the court will deny your petition. Similarly, if you've lived in separate counties for more than 90 days and try to file in the county you previously lived in together, your request may be dismissed.

It's essential that you're aware of how your separation could affect your ability to seek a divorce.

Separation Is Grounds for Divorce in Texas

When filing for a divorce, you must provide the court with a legal reason for doing such. The reason you give is referred to as grounds for divorce.

Texas law lists several grounds for divorce, one of which being living apart. If you and your spouse have been separated for at least three years and did not live together at all during that period, you have a legal reason to seek a divorce.

Note that living apart isn't a requirement for the termination of a marriage, nor is it the only reason that exists. Others include:

  • Insupportability,
  • Cruelty,
  • Adultery,
  • Felony conviction,
  • Abandonment, and
  • Confinement in a mental hospital.

Texas Law Does Not Recognize Legal Separation

In Texas, even if you and your spouse have decided to live separately, you cannot ask a court to recognize this arrangement. This means that the court cannot make any decisions regarding big issues such as alimony, child custody, or child support. In the eyes of the law, you are still married. This also means that if you or your spouse acquire assets while separated, it's still considered community property.

If you are separated and want to have clear guidelines on how important matters are handled, you and your spouse might establish an informal agreement. However, what you and your spouse decide on your own won't be recognized or enforced by the law. Also, if you eventually proceed with the divorce, the court may decide on these issues differently than what's outlined in your informal agreement.

However, if you are living apart and getting a divorce, the court can establish temporary arrangements until your case is finalized.

If you're considering a divorce in Denton and have questions about how separation might affect you, contact The Law Office of Gregory C. Goline at (940) 400-0475. We're here to help.