In pursuing a divorce, individuals tend to encounter a couple of hot-button issues: child custody and property division. The Lone Star State tackles both these topics uniquely. To focus on the latter of these issues, the state waits until after the divorce has been granted to begin divvying up the former couple’s property and assets. As one of the nation’s few community property states, Texas presumes both spouses to have an equal stake in any shared property.
This view of marital property as community property often causes issues for even the friendliest and most compromising of divorced couples because “community property” means that the property belongs to both spouses no matter who bought it (such as a house), who put more effort into it (i.e. a family business), or who is in more need of it (e.g. a pension).
On the other hand, dividing community property can be just as frustrating for couples who would prefer everything to be split in half, because the judge has to divide it based on what is “just and right” per the details of the divorce. While this may seem confusing, to put it simply, community property is only a presumption. It means that all property is presumed fair game for equal division unless circumstances or details require otherwise. Therefore, it is not a rule that mandates all property must be equally distributed no matter what.
Thus, in determining the division of community property, a judge will consider many details of the divorce, including:
- Who is at fault for the divorce;
- The reason for the divorce;
- The health of each spouse;
- The child custody arrangement; and
- Each spouse’s education level and career.
Divorced couples also have the legal right to request that certain property be viewed as separate, not community. They will need to have sufficient evidence to back up this request for it to be granted, however.
Per Texas Family Code 3.001, a few examples of property that could be considered separate include:
- Property owned or obtained by one spouse prior to the marriage;
- Property obtained by one spouse, in particular, as a gift or as part of an inheritance; and
- Any personal injury compensation that one spouse obtained during the marriage (this does not include compensation for lost wages).
There are numerous properties and assets that are likely to cause conflict, especially when there are many to be considered, such as at the end of a long marriage or a marriage with one or two wealthy parties. A seasoned lawyer can help ensure that the division of community property is fairly executed with everything in mind.
At the Law Offices of Frank E. Mann, P.C., we know that your property and assets include some of the most important things in your life — your place of residence, your savings, and even your pension —which is exactly why we want to lend you a helping hand. Our legal team is staffed by skilled negotiators who are ready to fight to protect your rights.
Call (713) 903-8112 or fill out an online form to get in touch with a Houston attorney.