Things to Know About Property Division Under Texas Divorce Laws
While spousal support and issues related to minor children may not come up in every Texas divorce, almost all parties must address property division when dissolving their marriage. Couples may acquire substantial assets after the wedding date, especially in long-term marriages. They might also incur considerable debt through loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Both property and financial obligations are subject to the Texas statute on property division, which establishes a system of community property for divorce cases. By law, all assets and liabilities the couple receives during the marriage are viewed as belonging equally to both spouses.
Unfortunately, there can be challenges with property division according to community property laws. Disputes often arise over when or how an asset was acquired, as well as how to divvy up items that are considered community property. Certain types of assets are also complex since there might be blurred lines in terms of ownership. These factors have a profound impact on your rights, so make it a priority to retain a Texas property division lawyer to protect them. In addition, some points about the laws may be helpful.
Overview of Texas Community Property Laws
The property division statute creates a two-step analysis for purposes of divvying assets between spouses in divorce:
1. Classifying Assets: Community property includes any assets acquired by either spouse after the date of the wedding. There are exceptions for items that qualify as separate property, such as gifts, inheritances under intestacy laws, or bequests under a will. In addition, some amounts one spouse received through a personal injury settlement may not be considered community property.
Though assets acquired during the marriage are presumed to be community property, a party can rebut this presumption with evidence to the contrary.
2. Dividing Assets Between Parties: Because community property is owned equally by both spouses, assets will be split equally – at least, in theory. An exact division is usually impracticable, so it is possible that property division will not be 50-50 but it should be very close.
Note that the debts, financial liabilities, and legal obligations of the parties are handled in the same way under this two-step process.
Factors That Impact Property Division
Because it would be impractical to require an exact 50-50 split of community property, Texas divorce laws include a list of factors that courts consider when making decisions on property division. Overall, a judge should issue a finding that is just and right, based upon the following:
Whether there was misconduct involved with the breakdown of the marriage, such as wasting of community assets;
The physical, mental, and emotional health of each spouse;
Which spouse has custody of minor children, a factor that has a key impact with respect to the family home;
The disparity between the spouses’ respective earning capacities;
How division of community property might impact tax liability; and,
The future employability of the spouses, including consideration of whether one party gave up education and employment opportunities to support the family.
Strategies for Resolving Property Division Disputes
With this information in mind, you should be aware that there are different ways to address community assets in a Texas divorce case.
Community Property Agreements: Texas laws encourage parties to agree on property division issues, so you work out details with respect to both of the two steps described above. The advantage to compromising on the division of assets is that you maintain control over your divorce, instead of being forced into the rigid statutory rules.
Divorce Mediation: If there are certain areas where you are close to a community property agreement, participating in mediation might help reach compromise. A trained mediator oversees the proceedings, guiding the parties in having productive discussions about property division. The outcome is not legally binding, so you can still take your case to court.
Contested Hearings on Property Division: When the parties cannot agree on dividing community assets, the court will conduct a trial to determine how to divide the marital estate. Both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence, testimony, and legal arguments to promote their respective positions. The judge will review the facts and apply Texas property division laws to render a decision.
Consult with a Texas Property Division Attorney About Your Rights
If you are going through a divorce or considering whether to file, it is critical to understand how property division concepts affect your interests. For more information, please contact The Ramos Law Group, PLLC at 713-225-6200 or via our website. We can schedule a consultation to review your circumstances and advise you on community property laws in Texas.