Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
Texas does not recognize "legal separation". So regardless of the reason or length of separation, once a couple is married, a couple remains married until the union is legally dissolved, by divorce, annulment or by death. However, steps can be taken for those persons wanting to live apart without filing for divorce. A divorce in Texas is actually two types of cases decided together, a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) and a community property division case. Technically, you could be married and just file a SAPCR case, but then you would end up doing another SAPCR case (and paying more money potentially) if a divorce is filed later. Therefore, many attorneys are of the opinion that filing for divorce is the best option.
Texas does allow for contractual separation agreements or property partitions which can provide a similar effect, but a judge's signature is lacking if the contract requires enforcement (but it still may be enforceable as a contract). However, these documents do assist clients that are ready for a separation but not ready for a divorce.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.