Some married couples reach a point in their relationship where they know that they need time apart. Whatever the reason for this decision, couples may not want to divorce right away, so they choose to separate. Even though the couple is still legally married, they are living separate lives. This is why Texas family law includes considerations to allow separated couples to live comfortably through their split.
If a couple happens to have children, one spouse may be responsible for child support during the separation period, even if there is no divorce order in place. Either the custodial parent can submit a request for payments or the couple can sign a legal agreement at the time they split outlining the amount of child support to be paid on a monthly basis.
One thing that separation may not automatically do is split up debts, which typically happens in divorce. Of course, couples can create a legal agreement that outlines exactly how debt will be handled during the split to take care of this important issue.
However, as long as a couple is still legally married in the eyes of the state, it’s likely that they will both still be responsible for debt assumed jointly during marriage. Knowing this, it’s important to make sure there are provisions to make sure major debts, such as a home mortgage, are maintained during the course of a legal separation.
After a certain period of time, couples may make the decision to take the next step and complete a divorce. In some ways, having a separation agreement in place may make dissolving the marriage easier, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t important legal issues to handle. Certain aspects of the separation can be carry over to a divorce settlement, such as child support or alimony, but the final pieces of asset division may still need to be squared away before each party can move forward.
Source: Opposing Views, “Financial Obligations During Separation,” Beverly Bird, May 11, 2013