When a marriage ends in divorce, soon-to-be ex-spouses have to divide all of their belongings. Each spouse wants to come out of the divorce without going into financial despair. In order to better understand property division in Texas, our Woodlands divorce lawyer answers common questions individuals have during the process.
Is Texas a Community Property or Equitable Division State?
During a divorce, either the spouses will decide how to divide their property or the court will. In the United States, there are two methods that are used to divide property in a divorce: community property and equitable distribution.
Equitable distribution states divide marital property in a fair or "equitable" manner between each spouse. Equitable does not mean equal; therefore, property is not always a 50/50 split.
On the other hand, community property states presume that both spouses have an equal right to all of the property either spouse acquired while married. It does not matter who purchased the property, nor who has more separate property. The division of assets will generally be an even split.
What is Community Property?
In terms of property division, Texas is a community property state. This principle means that any property that was acquired while married belongs to both spouses (known as the community).
Examples of community property include:
- Income from employment (this includes wages, salaries, tips, and overtime)
- A house or other real estate purchased during the marriage
- Vehicles purchased during the marriage regardless of which spouse's name is on the title
- Individual contributions to retirement accounts, pensions, or 401ks
- Unemployment compensation or payment for lost wages
- Checking and savings account balances (this includes both joint and single accounts)
Only community property is divided in a divorce.
What is Separate Property?
Each spouse can keep their separate property when the marriage ends. Separate property includes:
- Any asset or property that a spouse owned before marriage.
- A gift or inheritance received by only one spouse at any time.
- Recoveries for personal injuries sustained by only one spouse, except for the portion of the award intended to compensate for any lost earnings during the marriage.
The law assumes all property in a divorce to be community property unless the party claiming it as separate can prove it with clear and convincing evidence.
How Is Community Property Divided?
When a couple gets divorced, the law requires the judge to split their community property in a fair manner to each party. Essentially, this means that each spouse should receive an equal amount of property in the divorce. In most cases, this is an equal 50/50 split, while other times, it could be more or less depending on the couple's circumstances.
The court will look at several factors to determine what is a fair split of property, including:
- Whether one party was at fault for the breakup of the marriage
- Each spouse's earning potential and whether there are any disparities between the two
- Each spouse's education
- Future employability of each spouse
- Mental and physical health of each spouse
- Who has custody of the child(ren)
How is Property Division Impacted When One Spouse is at Fault for the End of the Marriage?
If one spouse filed for a fault-based divorce, property division might be affected. In cases where the at-fault spouse's conduct was intended to harm the other party, the judge may decide to award less property to them in the divorce.
Typically, this is seen in cases of adultery, psychological abuse, or other morally improper misconduct. The "innocent" spouse will need to show proof that the guilty spouse's misconduct was the reason for the marriage ending.
Additionally, when one spouse engages in financial misconduct like squandering money, hiding assets, or fraud, the court can punish them through an uneven division of property.
Don't Handle Property Division Matters Alone
Property division is one of the most contended aspects of the divorce process, making it one of the most challenging matters to resolve. If you're going through a divorce in Texas and have questions about property division, you can avoid making costly mistakes by speaking with a skilled Woodlands divorce attorney at Parchman Law Group P.L.L.C..
Call The Woodlands divorce lawyers from Parchman Law Group P.L.L.C. today at (713) 364-0777 to discuss your case.