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Getting a Divorce in Texas: The Division of Marital Property

One of the first questions when it comes to getting a divorce is "who gets what?" Remember, just because an asset was in one spouse's name, that does not make it his or her property. In Texas, marital property is classified in two ways: 1) community property and 2) separate property.

Unless rights to your assets have been varied or established by a pre-nuptial agreement, you can expect a court to view and characterize certain property as follows:

Community Property

All marital property is presumed to be community property. Furthermore, anything that is not proven to be separate property is community property. Broadly speaking, community property is property acquired during the course of marriage (by either spouse), and all community property may be divided by a judge. Some examples of assets that are generally considered community property are: income earned during the marriage; life insurance policies where the initial premium was paid from community funds; real property acquired during the marriage; personal injury awards for lost wages, lost earning capacity, and medical bills; and delay rentals paid by the lessee on mineral interests whether the mineral interest itself is separate or community.

Separate Property

Separate property is property acquired by one spouse before the marriage, or by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Separate property may not be divided by a judge. Some examples of assets that are generally considered separate property are: income from a trust; income from separate property (for example, rental property); increase in value of separate property ; personal injury awards for pain and suffering or loss of consortium; and life insurance policies where the initial premium was paid from separate funds.

That said, the burden of proof to establish that certain property is truly separate property is considerable. In the course of marriage, lines between separate and community property inevitably become blurred. Untangling and tracing joint contributions to separate retirement accounts, payments made from one spouse’s separate funds to improve community property, separate funds commingled with community funds in joint bank accounts, etc. is difficult but certainly not impossible.

Keeping Score in Complex and High-Asset Divorces

Keeping score to assert your rights to your assets is not your job, it is ours. When couples with substantial property divorce, establishing cause, contributions and injuries can be a complex legal and accounting endeavor, so you need a divorce law firm with the resources to both build and present your case compellingly. Jim Ross & Associates P.C. has these capabilities, and we have a strong track record of winning favorable and fair divorce settlements for our clients. Consult a divorce attorney you trust to help you establish your contribution to the marriage, and determine the appropriate course of action.

Common Considerations in a Divorce

Dividing Marital Debts: Protect Yourself from Your Ex’s Mistakes

When a divorce is final, the court will issue a divorce decree that states which assets are assigned to each spouse. An often overlooked area of this division of marital property is debt. “Community debts” incurred during the marriage are also divided between the spouses.

In your divorce decree, the court will state which spouse is responsible for each debt. For example: Husband agrees to pay Chase credit card, Wife agrees to pay Citibank credit card. However, if your ex accepts responsibility for a debt but later becomes delinquent in payments, the creditor may still try to come after you. The divorce decree does not get you off the hook entirely as far as the creditor is concerned. All it allows you to do is sue your ex for breaching the divorce agreement, which is some protection but is not necessarily very valuable if your ex does not have any money.

What this means for you and your divorce attorney is that you should think very carefully about the way in which the debts are split between you and your ex. You do not want to accept responsibility for more than what is fair, but you do not want to set yourself up for future credit problems if your ex ends up with more of the debt than he or she can handle.

Jim Ross & Associates can help you figure out the best plan of action for you to help avoid divorce credit problems as much as possible.