Separation vs. Annulment vs. Divorce

Making the decision to end a marriage is never easy. If you live in the state of Texas, there are some things you should understand about separation, annulment, and divorce, as they relate to ending a marriage.

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Legal Separation

The state of Texas does not recognize legal separation. Under state law, you are married until you are no longer married. In some other states, property is divided, and decisions about custody are made at the legal separation stage. In Texas, you can ask for temporary orders for matters concerning custody and support when you file for divorce. If granted, they will be temporary until the divorce is final.

Since Texas is a community property state, all the assets of the couple remain community property until the marriage has legally ended. Living separately does not mean that your individual assets(i.e. salary, vehicles, houses) are your own. They will be divided during the divorce process, but not before.


Getting an annulment means that the marriage never took place legally. Some people would prefer that the marriage is ended through annulment for religious reasons. There are two ways you can get an annulment. The first way is to show that your marriage is void. This means that it was not legal in the first place. If divorce/remarriage laws were broken, or the marriage took place between minors or one of the participants was already legally married, you can get an annulment. If both partners are too closely related, an annulment may also be granted.

The second way is to prove that you have grounds for an annulment. This could mean that you were not of sound mind when the marriage took place. It could also be that you were married under false pretenses that you were not aware of before the marriage. In the case of permanent impotence, an annulment is allowed.


In divorce cases, the record will show that you were legally married, unlike an annulment. In Texas, you can have a no-fault or a fault divorce. You file a petition and lay out your reasons for wanting a divorce. Some acceptable reasons are:

  • Felony conviction of a spouse
  • Spousal abandonment (1-year minimum)
  • Adultery
  • Living apart (3 years minimum)
  • Cruelty
  • Spouse in a mental hospital (3 years minimum)

If one of the partners in a marriage has been a Texas resident for six months and a resident of the county for 90 days, then they can file for divorce in that county. The District Court in that county will process the forms for your divorce.

In Texas, there are online services to help with uncontested divorces. They will help you fill out the forms and file online.

Other Options

After you have filed for divorce, it’s time to decide if your divorce will be finalized through mediation,or you will use a divorce attorney. Mediation is less expensive, but will only work if the divorce is uncontested, and the property and custody settlements are straightforward. Especially in cases where you are concerned about getting the outcome you want, you should hire an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can help with division of property, custody, and child support agreements.