When contemplating divorce, you may wonder how Texas laws may affect your property rights.
Divorce represents a complex, life-changing event.
Understandably, many feel overwhelmed by what they may lose.
A qualified Houston, Texas family law attorney focuses on protecting your rights as you navigate through a divorce.
An attorney analyzes and determines what constitutes community property and separate property in your Texas divorce.
What Is Separate Property and Community Property in Texas?
Texas laws define property subject to divorce as either separate property or community property.
The characterization of property subject to a divorce often proves to be a complex task.
Separate property in Texas typically represents property owned or claimed before marriage.
Additionally, separate property includes property acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance, monetary recoveries from certain types of personal injury lawsuits, and property gifted by one spouse to the other during the marriage.
These types of property retain their separate property character despite being acquired after marriage, if the separate property can be traced and is not commingled with community property.
Community property represents property acquired after marriage by the husband, wife, or both. All property characterized as community property must be divided equally after a divorce.
Community property commonly includes all property that is not separate, including the family home, bank accounts, vehicles, vacation properties, and personal items of property such as art, instruments, and collectibles.
Texas law presumes that all property acquired after marriage represents community property. However, this presumption may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. The party attempting to overcome this community property presumption bears this burden of proof.
The Larson Law Office understands the difficulty in overcoming this presumption and helps clients gather the necessary evidence to support their claim.
Division of Community Property in Divorce
Community property laws provide that both husband and wife possess equal ownership in community property. Separate property in Texas remains with the owning party and is not subject to divorce proceedings.
Despite Texas property laws presuming that spouses own community property equally, courts do not always divide community property 50/50 between spouses.
Instead, courts take into account various factors impacting the manner of division of the community property.
These factors include the following:
- The spouse’s and children’s needs,
- Earning capacity of spouses,
- Age and health of spouses,
- The value of separate property owned by the spouses,
- Education level of spouses,
- Who was the primary caretaker for children, and
- Whether any spouse committed fraud or wasted assets.
Courts consider the above factors in determining what serves as a “just and right” division of the property. In addition to dividing property, parties must also divide community debts. However, debt division is typically at the discretion of the court based on the principle of equity. In other words, debt division is conducted as the courts reasonably determine.
However, parties may avoid a court-directed division of community property assets and debts by establishing a mutual agreement for division.
In these circumstances, it’s best to retain an attorney to act on your behalf. A skilled family law attorney works to negotiate a favorable resolution while protecting your rights.
The Larson Law Office holds a significant reputation in the community for providing skilled and personalized legal counsel to its clients. We recognize that each of our clients’ cases is unique, and we use personal strategies that focus on your individual needs.
When going through a divorce, you need an attorney committed to you and preserving your rights. The process of characterizing community and Texas separate property gets complicated quickly.