Family law courts have the task of overseeing the division of marital property in Texas when a couple chooses to divorce. Texas is one of several states that ascribes all property accumulated during a marriage by each spouse as “community property”. Community property laws typically state that the court must divide the property equally between the two spouses. However, this process of dividing the marital assets is far from simple and can be expensive for both spouses.
Division of Marital Property in Texas – Community Property
The default standard for the is “community property”. State law defines community property as the total value of all of the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Family law courts typically assume that all property accumulated during the marriage is community property. The only exception to the community property rule occurs when one spouse can present evidence that some assets gained during the marriage belong to that spouse alone.
Division of Marital Property in Texas – Separate Property
Assets acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage do not fall under the community property rule and are not eligible for division of marital property in Texas. Any gifts, inheritances or amounts earned from a lawsuit or settlement for that spouse alone are also considered separate property. If the lawsuit or settlement award included compensation for lost wages, that portion of the award is considered community property, but the remaining amount is still regarded as separate property.
Division of Marital Property in Texas – “Just and Right” Division
Although the community property rules for division of marital property in Texas stress the equal division of the marital assets, such an even split may not always be practical. The courts often have wide leeway to determine the “just and right” division based on an array of factors. These factors can include each spouse’s income level, earning potential, age and health, as well as the duration of the marriage and which parent gets custody of any minor children. If the actions and behavior of one spouse led to the divorce, the court can also consider these actions when deciding on how to divide the marital assets.
Division of Marital Property in Texas – Types of Property
Family court judges consider all types of assets accumulated during the marriage when deciding on the division of marital property in Texas. In most instances, the decisions involve real property, such as houses, vehicles and land. Assets under scrutiny can also include investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and retirement accounts. The courts can also examine the value of a business built during the marriage, regardless of whether both spouses were active participants in that business, when determining the allocation of marital assets.
Division of Marital Property in Texas – Know Your Rights
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