Who Gets What? Understanding Texas Community Property Laws

One of the frustrating things about a divorce is how hard it can be to accurately predict an outcome. The most hotly contested issues are typically custody of any minor children and the division of assets between spouses. In families with prenuptial agreements, the outcome may be easily predictable. In most other divorces, however, it can be hard for either party to know what to expect throughout the asset division process.

While every marriage, and therefore every divorce, is unique, there are certain guidelines that inform Texas divorces. If you and your spouse don’t agree about the terms of asset division, you can look over state guidelines and laws to better understand the potential outcome of your divorce. An understanding of how Texas courts handle both¬†debt and asset division¬†will help you form more realistic expectations.

Most assets and debts from your marriage get split

Under Texas law, it doesn’t matter which spouse earned more money or whose name is on the retirement account. What is far more important is when you and your spouse earned or acquired the assets and debts of your marriage. For example, deposits made to a retirement account before marriage will probably remain the property of the individual, while deposits from during the marriage will probably end up divided between both spouses.

The courts may consider certain possessions separate property. These possessions may include items owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, assets acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance, and, potentially, recovery for personal injuries to one spouse during the marriage (with the exception of the loss of earning capacity). Documentation and proof of ownership may be necessary to establish certain assets as separate property. The courts will consider everything else marital property.

Courts seek a fair and equitable asset division process

In general, the courts in Texas will do their best to ensure both spouses receive a fair share of the marital property. Any community property will probably end up divided evenly between spouses. That could include your retirement account, as well as the equity you’ve established in your marital home over the course of the marriage. Sometimes, that means directly splitting assets between spouses. Other times, the value of one asset could offset another possession of value. The division process and who gets what tends to vary greatly between different cases.

You provide the courts with an inventory of assets, as well as the assumed market value of each asset. From there, the courts determine how to split these in a manner that is equitable and fair to both parties. Ensuring that your inventory of assets is accurate and has fair market values for items is one of the best ways to ensure that the asset division process is thorough and fair.

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