One of the more common methods of dividing community property when a couple separates is through a "partition and exchange agreement". Such an agreement allows the transfer of martial property or property interest to a spouse so that it becomes that spouse's separate property. For the agreement to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by both spouses. It is then recorded in the deed records in the county where the spouses reside and the county where the property is located.

Pros and Cons of Partition and Exchange Agreements

I have seen couples that have had a partition and exchange agreement that's remained in effect for five, ten, fifteen years, or a lifetime --- all the while they remained legally married. Furthermore, one of the advantages of entering into a partition and exchange agreement is if the parties do subsequently divorce, the property that has been partitioned to a party is that party's separate property and the divorce court cannot take separate property away from a party.

One of the disadvantages of a partition and exchange agreement is if the parties resume living together as husband and wife, and do not undo the partition and exchange agreement, then upon the subsequent divorce or death of the parties, they're frequently surprised to learn that the partition and exchange agreement is in full force and effect.

In some respects not having the ability to get a legal separation in Texas is probably beneficial to actually keeping marriages together. It forces couples to seriously think about whether they wish to be married or divorced. Without a legal separation process in the State of Texas the parties are not left in the limbo state of being half married and half unmarried - legally separated.

Even though you can't get a legal separation in Texas, the above method of dividing the martial property while you are separated does offer an option to protect your rights while you are living apart from your spouse. It's important to realize that any arrangements made during your separation in Texas can set precedence if you get a divorce, so you really need to consider the implications before you proceed.

For more tips and information on the various issues of separation and how you can protect yourself, check out the following articles:
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