Separation And Annulment
Living separated from your partner can lead to legal complications not far removed from those related to a divorce. In Texas, the longer a married couple remains separated without addressing issues concerning their property, debts and children, the more difficult and complex their problems tend to become. Let me help. I founded Law Office of Richard Lybarger in Sugar Land to help families in Texas take the appropriate steps to protect your property interests and the needs of your children.
Common Law Couples May Also Need Divorce Decrees
Occasionally people who are married live apart. Sometimes this happens when a person believes that since the couple is “just common law,” they are not really married and do not have to get a divorce. That is not the case.
While Texas recognizes “common law” or “informal marriage,” there is no such thing as a common-law divorce. A “common law” or “informal marriage” is just as valid as any ceremonial marriage.
Other than by the death of a spouse, the only way to end a marriage in Texas is by having the court enter a decree of divorce or an annulment. Alternatively, they may enter a judgment declaring the marriage void.
Don’t Leave Your Family Hanging In Legal Limbo
If the parties are married, they still have community property and debts between them, which may result in serious and unintended consequences if the marriage is not terminated through a divorce proceeding or possibly with the parties executing an agreement between spouses.
Consider Executing An Agreement Between Spouses
If the spouses wish to remain married and live apart, I usually recommend that the parties consider executing an agreement between spouses.
With this agreement, the spouses may partition their community estate (including retirement, real property, investments and business interests), debts, and confirm to each other their respective separate property, if any.
An agreement between spouses can also be helpful in addressing their estate planning needs in the event one of them should pass away. If you are married and separated and wish to remain married, I encourage you to call and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and learn how to protect your rights.
Take Care Of Children When Spouses Live Apart
If a married couple is living apart and has one or more children who are entitled to support, either party (and if services have been requested, the Office of the Texas Attorney General) may file an Original Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR).
This filing allows the court to address the needs of the children by entering orders for conservatorship (custody), possession and access (visitation), rights and duties of the parents (how and by whom decisions concerning the children are to be made), and providing for the financial support of the children.
If you are married and separated from your spouse and have children, we are here to help you. We encourage you to call and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation in order to address the needs of your children.
Paternity Issues Complicate Separated Couples
If a married couple has been living apart, and the wife becomes pregnant with a man who is not her husband, the husband of the woman is presumed to be the father of the child. This is a serious problem for the husband and creates an additional level of complexity for spouses who may be separated and living apart.
The husband or wife should address the paternity issue as soon as possible by filing a paternity case (SAPCR) against the biological father of the child and asking the court to enter judgment that the husband of the wife is not the biological father of the child.
The paternity case also can establish the legal relationship of father and child between the biological father and the child.
If you are married and separated from your spouse and a child has been born, I encourage you to call and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
Understand How Annulment Works In Texas
Marriage annulments in Texas are granted only under very limited circumstances.
- A party to the marriage is older than 16 but younger than 18
- A party is under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
- Cases of impotency
- Cases involving fraud, duress, or force
- A party lacks mental capacity
- Cases of a concealed divorce
- Cases where marriage takes place less than 72 hours after the license is issued
Annulments are not very common and, once granted, the marriage becomes void and is considered to have never happened. However, while the marriage relationship itself is dissolved as if it never took place, all of the same rules apply to property division and children as in divorce.
The court can make temporary and final orders concerning property and children just as if the parties were married.
If your marriage is of short duration and you suspect that there is a defect in the marriage contract, I am Houston family lawyer, Richard Lybarger, and I will gladly evaluate your situation to determine if seeking an annulment is appropriate under Texas law.