The principle of community property can make dividing assets during a divorce simple for the court. However, this arrangement can be financially detrimental to one spouse or even disadvantageous for both.
Before initiating a legal separation, mates should understand how Texas law defines community property and what items it excludes.
Items that might not be community property
Texas courts presume that marriage mates hold all property in common. The title deed does not necessarily determine whether an asset or liability is community property. Even if an item is in one spouse’s name, the court will likely still hold that the property belongs to both partners equally.
However, the law indicates that a court may view certain items as separate property. This designation might apply to:
- Items a person owned before entering the marriage
- Gifts or inheritance that the giver specifically transfers to an individual
- A personal injury award or settlement
In various cases, these items could still become community property in whole or in part because of a spouse’s contribution to the maintenance of the item. In the case of an injury settlement, any compensation that went toward commingled interests, such as wage recovery, could entitle the other spouse to a portion of the proceeds.
Proof that an item is not community property
Since the court assumes married couples share everything, whichever spouse asserts that a piece is not community property bears the burden of proof. The individual must produce documentation to establish this claim. Such paperwork would show the purchase occurred before marriage.
Establishing that an item is not community property requires clear and convincing evidence. A person who wants the court to accept that claim must do substantial work to verify that assertion.