Property division in a Texas divorce: What you need to know

Dividing property is arguably the messiest part of a divorce. Couples often fail to agree on who should take what, prompting the court to step in and help them split their properties. It is important to note that the court has the discretion to divide community property in whichever way it deems fair. Fair doesn’t necessarily translate to equal. Many factors, including income, health state, educational levels, and age, are considered when making the decisions.

What is the difference between separate and communal property?

These are two terms you are going to come across severally throughout your divorce case in Texas. You, however, still need to understand what these terms mean even if you decide to go about property division without the court’s intervention

Texas is a communal property state, which means that assets acquired in the course of the marriage are regarded as community property and will be split equally during divorce irrespective of who actually paid for them.

Separate property, on the other hand, is the property either spouse came into the marriage with. So, if you had $300,000 in the bank before walking down the aisle, the money will not be subject to division in the event of divorce. Note, however, that the property must remain separate throughout the marriage to be considered so during divorce.

Common examples of separate property include inheritance, gifts received by one spouse, and money awarded to one spouse in, say, personal injury claims. The only time insurance settlements would not be regarded as separate property is when the money was compensation for lost income by one of the spouses.

Dividing assets

The first thing to do is to create a list of all assets acquired in the course of the marriage, each alongside its value. This can include cars, houses, businesses, bank accounts, and retirement plans.

With the help of a family lawyer from Galveston divorce law firm, the two parties should look for the fairest way to split the property. If, for instance, your community property is two cars, a house, and two bank accounts with $500,000 and $300,000, you can decide to sell the two assets so that you only have to deal with liquid money. Or perhaps, you can consider the circumstances of either spouse and decide who will take the house and who the cars. A lawyer would help you decide this after assessing the situation of either spouse.

Dividing debt

Debt accrued during the course of the marriage MAY be considered community property in Texas. Any debt that you got into the marriage with is generally considered separate property – same as any debt in the form of a loan that was acquired with separate property as collateral.

For fair division of debt, try to put the debts in a list together with details such as who acquired the debt and how it was used. This way, it can be easier to come up with more accurate liability estimates for either party.