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Specialty tag(s): Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements, Child Support

What Choices Do You Have in Texas When Divorce Is Not an Option?

Chandler Rice Winslow | September 26, 2022

Mother hugging her child

Unlike many other states, there is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Texas. In Texas, you are either married or not.

However, many people hold specific religious, cultural, and moral beliefs that prohibit their consideration of a divorce. In this article, I will discuss the options available for couples who have decided that divorce is not an option.

What options are available to help couples manage financial disagreements? 

When finances are the impetus for wanting to separate from a spouse, one very useful tool is a postnuptial or “partition and exchange” agreement. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement defines and clarifies how finances will be divided and managed between you and your spouse. 

While a postnuptial agreement may seem extreme or unromantic, it can often be the common ground to mitigate arguments you and your spouse may experience when disagreeing over how to handle money.

While we all naturally seek to avoid having to pay for legal services, the cost of preparing a postnuptial agreement can provide a significant return on investment by allowing spouses to reach agreements on their finances during the remainder of the marriage but also in the event that a divorce is ultimately necessary.  Typically, parties can reach fair and reasonable agreements when they are still working amicably together, prior to the disintegration of the marriage relationship. As such, the “cost” of a postnuptial agreement is a small price to pay to reach the peace of mind (and peaceful household) the couple has wanted but is no longer able to maintain because they disagree about how money should be managed or spent.

A postnuptial is an ideal tool for couples who genuinely love and respect each other and want to stay together (without fighting). It is also helpful for those who want to stay together for other reasons but are afraid of the financial consequences of keeping their money together when they can’t see eye-to-eye on their finances.

What options are available to protect parents’ rights without going through a legal divorce?

When children are involved, parents also have options to determine their respective parental rights and duties. In Texas, spouses can reach agreements concerning these parenting rights without having to go through a formal legal divorce. The tool for this is known as an Order Affecting Parent-Child relationship.

Just as a “custody order” or child support order is enforceable for families that have been legally divorced, the Order Affecting Parent-Child Relationship is also enforceable without having to go through an unwanted divorce. These types of orders can be utilized to set forth each parent’s right to make decisions for the children (including the ability to continue to make joint decisions), each parent’s respective parenting time with the children, and each party’s obligations in terms of financially supporting their children now and into the future. The Order Affecting Parent Child allows the couple the option to separate without having to be formally divorced, yet protects their most precious assets, their relationship with their children.

Whether you are interested in solidifying agreements you have with your spouse concerning your finances or your children, it is always important to ensure that your legal documents are binding. The attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley are skilled drafters of both postmarital agreements and orders in suit affecting the parent-child relationship.

Learn More

Chandler Rice Winslow has been named D Magazine Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2022. She has experience in business and real estate law in addition to representing a wide variety of clients in family law, including working and non-working mothers. Chandler understands how a business operates and works closely with business owners on identifying separate and community property. She is also sought after for drafting pre-and post-nuptial agreements and solving highly contested custody issues.

To learn more about stepparent’s rights after a Texas divorce, please contact Chandler Winslow at 214-373-7676.

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