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  • Writer's pictureCHD Law

What You Need to Know About Property Division in Texas Divorces

I.                Understanding Community Property

Community property in Texas refers to assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This includes income, real estate, and personal property. The Texas Family Code, specifically Chapters 3 and 4, provides the legal framework for understanding community property.

The default presumption in Texas is that all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property. This means that unless proven otherwise, assets acquired by either spouse from the date of marriage to the date of separation are subject to division during divorce proceedings.

 

II.               Identifying Separate Property

Separate property comprises assets that a spouse owned before the marriage, as well as property acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gift, as well as certain personal injury recoveries. Separate property is not divisible at the time of divorce as the Court does not have jurisdiction over separate property.  Separate property remains the property of the party whose separate property it is.

The spouse alleging that they have separate property has the burden to prove their claim to the Court. To establish and prove property as separate, maintaining clear documentation is crucial. This includes keeping records of pre-marital ownership, inheritance documents, and evidence of gifts. Proper documentation helps in avoiding disputes during divorce proceedings.

 

III.              The Role of Equitable Distribution

While Texas follows community property principles, the division of property doesn't necessarily have to be equal. Instead, the court aims for "equitable" distribution, taking into account various factors unique to each case, such as the spouses' financial situations, earning capacities, and contributions to the marriage.

The court also considers factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse's financial contributions, education and employability, and any disparity in earning capacities. This allows for a fair and just distribution that reflects the unique circumstances of each divorce case.

 

IV.             Common Challenges and Considerations

Distinguishing between community and separate property can be challenging, especially in cases where commingling of assets occurs. Commingling happens when separate property funds are used for joint expenses or investments.

To protect separate property, spouses are advised to maintain separate bank accounts for their pre-marital assets, clearly document gifts and inheritances, and consider prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. However, just keeping assets separate does not prevent them from being classified as community property.

It is vital that you understand community vs. separate property concepts when preparing for divorce and/or when preparing a pre-marital or post-marital agreement. Seeking legal advice early in the process can also help individuals navigate these challenges.

 

V.              Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the nuances of community property and separate property is essential for anyone going through a divorce in Texas. Familiarity with the Texas Family Code and seeking professional legal advice can contribute to a smoother and more equitable resolution of property division. Contact us today to schedule your initial meeting to see how we may be able to support you. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


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