Going through a divorce is never easy, but the truth is that without the help of a skilled family law attorney, you could end up losing much more than just your spouse. One of the main issues in a divorce is determining who gets what. Known in legal terms as property division, this is one of the most important and usually most contentious parts of the divorce decree.
Therefore, it is essential that you understand exactly how this process works in order to protect yourself and your property.
Community Property Laws in Texas
Texas operates under the rule of community property, which essentially means that all property and earned income acquired by either spouse during the marriage belongs to both parties equally. As a result, both spouses must also split this community property equally when they divorce. Similarly, all debts acquired by either partner during the marriage are also considered community debts and thus split equally.
However, it is important to note that equally doesn’t necessarily mean that the property will be split 50/50. Instead, the judge in the divorce case will weigh out all of the various factors to determine a ‘just and right’ division of all community property and debt. Of course, what you deem ‘just and right’ may not necessarily be the same as what your partner or the judge deems to be fair, which is where hiring an experienced divorce attorney can potentially be of huge benefit to you.
Community vs. Separate Property
As a community property state, Texas automatically considers most property and income acquired during the marriage as joint assets. It doesn’t matter which spouse’s name is on the title or whose income was used to pay for the property as, if it was acquired during the marriage, it is still community property.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your assets are considered community property as any of the following exceptions may allow you to claim some items and assets as separate property:
- If you owned property or money prior to the wedding and kept it separate
throughout the marriage
- If you were personally given money or property as a gift
- If you personally inherited any property or assets
- If you received money through a personal injury lawsuit or settlement as
long as that money wasn’t intended to compensate for the loss of
Despite Texas being a community property state, the fact is that there are still a number of assets that you may be able to claim as separate property. However, it is up to you and your attorney to prove to the judge that these assets should be treated as separate property, which is another area where hiring an experienced family law attorney can be of huge benefit.
Factors that Affect “Just and Right” Property Division
There are many instances where the divorce judge will decide on a simple 50/50 split of all community property, but this definitely isn’t always the case. Instead, there are a range of different factors that may influence the judge’s decision, and ultimately it is up to their discretion as to what constitutes ‘just and right.’
One of the most common reasons a judge will decide on an unequal split is when one spouse is primarily responsible for raising the couple’s children or to compensate for differences in earning capabilities or disparities in income. In addition, the judge may also take into account factors such as anticipated inheritances and the size of each spouse’s separate property.
Texas is also one of the states that still allows for a spouse to file for either a no-fault or a fault divorce. In a fault divorce, one spouse is considered to be primarily at fault for the marriage ending, such as in cases involving adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or conviction of a felony. In cases of a fault divorce, the judge may decide to punish the at-fault party by unequally splitting the community assets and awarding the other spouse the greater share.
All of these various factors show why property division is almost never easy or straightforward and why it is so vital that you have help from a skilled divorce attorney.
At Benouis Law, we understand just how frustrating and difficult going through a divorce can be especially when it comes to dividing up your community assets. Therefore, don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re in need of legal representation for our divorce as our experienced team of attorneys will work hard for you to help you come up with a reasonable agreement.
Speak with the experienced attorneys at Benouis Law by contacting us at 512-764-3932.