Every state has its own laws and rules pertaining to separations and divorces.
Texas law has no provision for a legal separation. If you file for a divorce, you can ask the court for orders that deal with things like use of property-e.g. who gets to live in the house-and temporary child custody and support. Texas is a community property state, and living apart does not make property you acquire separate property.
Texas has both no-fault and fault divorce. Your grounds (or reasons) for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Petition for Divorce that you file with your District court in your county. Once the Decree of Divorce is granted (i.e. the judge approves your divorce), you will become an unmarried person again. The statutory grounds for divorce are: Adultery, Cruel treatment (that renders further living together insupportable), Abandonment (for at least one year with the intent to abandon), Long-term incarceration (more than one year), Confinement to a mental hospital for at least 3 years, Living apart for at least 3 years, or Insupportability (which is the no-fault ground), defined as discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of the state for six months and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for 90 days preceding the filing. You will file your paperwork with the District Court of Texas in the county in which you or your ex-spouse resides. The District Clerk and his or her assistants will be managing your paperwork with the court.
There is a 60 waiting period in Texas from the date of filing of the petition with the court. That means that a divorce cannot be final for at least 60 days after filing-it does not mean that the divorce is automatically final on the 61st day. If the parties are in agreement as to all the terms of their divorce, the final decree of divorce can be prepared and signed by the parties during the 60 day period and can be entered by the court on the 61st day. The divorce is final as soon as the judge pronounces it so in open court and signs the decree of divorce. If the parties are not in agreement, the average time it takes to finalize a divorce is about 6 months to one year or longer, depending on the complexity of the issues and the degree of dispute.
Mediation is an option that many divorcing couples choose when working out the specific terms of their settlement agreement. It’s less expensive than hiring two lawyers, and perhaps more importantly for the long run, it can keep the parties from becoming adversaries. In Texas the court can refer a case to mediation and the mediation agreement may be legally binding.