One of the first questions female clients often ask is, What am I entitled to if I divorce my husband? The answer is that women’s rights in a divorce in Texas are the same as men’s rights.
Whether it be an award of spousal support or the just division of marital assets (called community property), both parties are subject to the same rules and considerations imposed by Texas courts.
If you believe you have been treated unfairly, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney in your jurisdiction.
When it comes to protecting your rights in a divorce, you get only one bite at the apple. If the court deprives you of your fair share of marital assets, you may find yourself without the needed finances to move on with your life.
My Husband Wants a Divorce. What Am I Entitled to With Respect to Alimony?
Texas public policy disfavors alimony. Marriage creates the legal obligation to financially support the other spouse. However, Texas law reflects the state’s public policy against a permanent obligation to support one’s ex-spouse after the marriage has ended. Instead, termination of the marital relationship ends a spouse’s duty to support the other spouse.
However, Texas courts have recognized the validity of spousal support. Texas law defines spousal maintenance as “periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.” Unlike alimony, which preserves a spouse’s standard of living, spousal support is temporary and helps the receiving spouse get back on their feet.
Texas courts are still nonetheless hesitant to award spousal support except in a few specific circumstances. These include:
- Conviction of domestic violence against a spouse or their children;
- Marriage of over ten years, and spouse requesting support lacks the ability to make sufficient income; or
- The spouse requesting support suffers from a debilitating disability or is the caretaker for a disabled child.
Unless a wife falls into one or more of these limited categories, it is unlikely a Texas court will award spousal support in a divorce. For this reason, the answer to the question, What is my wife entitled to in a divorce? generally excludes spousal support.
What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Texas with Respect to Asset Division?
Texas law entitles wives and husbands alike to a just and right share of marital assets. Marital assets, or “community property,” are generally assets that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Anything classified as community property is subject to division.
It is irrelevant whose name is on the title or whose name the bank account is under. Community property can include assets such as automobiles, the marital home, businesses, and contributions to retirement accounts.
What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Texas With Respect to Separate Property?
While community property typically consists of anything acquired after the date of the marriage, separate property includes those assets acquired before the marriage. In addition, property that would otherwise be community property is separate property, where the asset in question is
- An inheritance left to one spouse but not the other,
- Acquired with a spouse’s separate assets,
- Gifted to one spouse but not the other,
- Excluded from community property via a valid prenuptial agreement, or
- Certain types of money damages from a personal injury claim.
Note that while property acquired before the marriage is separate property, income derived from this kind of property can be classified as community property. In addition, if the wife actively contributed to the business’ appreciation, she may be entitled to a share of the asset in a divorce under a reimbursement claim.
What is a “Just and Right” Division of Community Property in Texas?
When the marriage comes to an end, all assets properly classified as community property are subject to “just and right division” between the spouses. Texas courts have held that a “just and right” division of community assets is not necessarily 50/50. Rather than automatically divide everything in half, Texas courts will consider various factors.
Length of the Marriage
In general, the longer the marriage, the greater the need for support to a spouse who has come to depend on the other.
The Fault of Either Party
The grounds for a fault-based divorce include adultery, abandonment, cruelty, and felony conviction. A Texas court may base their property division on one of these grounds. Courts will consider what benefits the not-at-fault party would have enjoyed had the marriage continued.
Misappropriation of Marital Assets
Texas courts will consider bad acts when dividing community property with an eye toward making the not-at-fault party whole again. Examples of qualifying conduct include where one spouse moves marital funds to a secret account in anticipation of divorce. Another example is where one spouse uses marital funds to pay for a vacation with their paramour. Texas courts call this latter example “marital waste.”
The Health of the Parties
Severe health issues can financially burden a spouse with increased medical costs, prescription drug prices, and health insurance premiums. In addition, a spouse’s medical issues may limit their ability to do certain kinds of work or even any work at all.
Each Party’s Education and Earning Capacity
Texas courts will consider education and earning capacity with respect to evaluating the parties’ respective earning potential and employability. When one spouse has a professional degree, and the other is a homemaker with a high school diploma, courts may structure the property division to compensate for the discrepancy in earning potentials.
Liabilities of the Parties
Texas courts divide marital liabilities between the parties. Liabilities can include contractual agreements, student loans, credit card debt, money judgments from tortious conduct, and home and business loans.
Amount of Each Spouse’s Separate Property
Texas courts dividing up community property may take into consideration the spouses’ personal assets when one spouse has substantially more than the other. For example, a Texas court may award a wife more community property where the husband’s separate property assets total $1 million and the marital estate is only valued at $500,000.
A Trusted and Experienced Family Law Firm Who Will Fight For Your Rights
How much a wife gets in a Texas divorce depends on the specific circumstances of each case. In Texas, wives are entitled to the same rights—and subject to the same rules—as their husbands.
We understand that every divorce is different and unique to your circumstances, and we pride ourselves on providing clients with personalized attention and tailored solutions.