How is Property Divided in a Divorce?
When you are married, your life becomes intertwined with someone else’s, which makes separating from that person incredibly difficult. One particularly challenging issue is how your assets and debts are divided. It is important that the decisions that are made protect your future as a single individual.
Texas is one of nine community property states, but in Texas, community property, which is all assets acquired by either party over the course of a marriage, is subject to equitable distribution rather than a 50/50 split. Determining what equitable distribution looks like and ensuring that your rights and interests are protected is an important role of your divorce attorney.
At Skillern Firm, we can help you and your ex-spouse to divide your property using mediation. Mediation not only saves time and money on court costs, but it also enables personalized arrangements that protect your interests.
Our Texas divorce attorneys prioritize the attorney-client relationship. We understand that each case is unique and will take the time to understand your needs and fight for them, so you can transition to your new life in confidence.
Call Skillern Firm today at 936-213-8479 to arrange an initial consultation with a Texas property division lawyer serving the Greater Houston area.
What is a Community Property State?
Texas is one of nine community property states, which means that all marital property must be split in a ‘just and fair manner’.
The first step is to divide the property into separate and community property.
Separate property is any asset that each party owned prior to marriage. It can also include some property acquired during the marriage, such as compensation, gifts, and inheritance. Each spouse’s separate property continues to belong to that individual after the divorce has been finalized. Prenuptial agreements may also protect some marital assets from being divided.
Community property includes all property and debts acquired by either party during the course of the marriage. Community property is subject to equitable distribution between divorcing spouses.
Equitable distribution can equate to a 50/50 split of all assets, however, there are exceptions. It is possible to claim particular assets as personal property, although you will need clear and convincing evidence as to why. For example, perhaps it is in your children’s best interest for you to keep the marital home, where your child will live with you for the majority of the time.
A property division attorney will help you navigate the community property system so that you divide marital property in a just and fair way that protects your rights and interests as well as those of your children.
Important Considerations in Property Agreements
Under state law in Texas, marital property is presumed to belong to each spouse equally. However, marital property must be divided equitably, which doesn’t always equate to a 50/50 split.
For example, perhaps your ex-spouse had separate debt due to gambling addiction. It would not be fair for you to share this debt equally. Other considerations for dividing property could include:
- The needs of each spouse and their earning capabilities
- The amount of separate property belonging to each spouse
- Whether one spouse is the primary caregiver for the couple’s children
- Whether one spouse was at fault for the divorce
Complexities of Property Division in Texas
Property division is often one of the most complex factors of any divorce, regardless of what assets divorcing spouses own. However, there are some assets that can be particularly challenging to divide and require a valuation, the validity of appraisals, and even expert testimony to determine what is fair and equitable.
Some assets that can be challenging to divide include self-owned businesses, pensions, investments, debts, trusts, life insurance policies, and offshore properties. For example, when dividing retirement accounts that may have been opened before the marriage, it will be necessary to determine what percentage is separate and what is community property.
A property division attorney, such as those at Skillern Firm, can help you divide complex assets and debts. If your divorce involves high-value assets or hidden assets, then it is essential you have representation from an attorney with extensive experience navigating these types of divorces. Otherwise, you could end up with less than what you deserve.
At Skillern Firm, we are uniquely prepared to navigate high-asset divorces for clients in the Greater Houston area. Attorney Kathleen LeFevre, a senior associate here at Skillern Firm, has a long history of success in helping clients through high-asset divorce. She has won numerous awards for her dedication to her clients, including Top Rated Family Law Attorney in Sugar Land, TX, by Super Lawyers.
How is Property Divided in a Divorce? FAQ
Q: How do I Know Which Assets are Separate or Community Property?
A: Dividing property into separate and community property can be challenging. A good first step is to determine what assets you owned before you were married. An attorney can help you divide your property and will help you to provide evidence of which assets are personal to you.
Q: Is Community Property Divided Equally in Texas?
A: Although community property is presumed to belong equally to both spouses, ultimately, it must be divided in an equitable manner, which doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split. Some grounds for keeping community property separate could include having primary custody of children or a large income disparity.
Q: Does It Matter Who Was at Fault For The Divorce When Dividing Property?
A: Texas is a no-fault state, which means that most couples who divorce do so on the grounds of insupportability, which doesn’t place blame on either party. However, sometimes an at-fault divorce is appropriate. For example, if one spouse has committed adultery or abuse, then this may be considered when dividing property.
Q: Can we Negotiate Property Division Without Court Involvement?
A: Family courts always prefer divorcing spouses to come to their own agreements using mediation wherever possible, although any agreement you do come to will ultimately need to be in line with state law and approved by a Judge.
At Skillern Firm, we will help you mediate with your ex-spouse to come to an agreement that is likely to be approved and protects your interests. However, if this is not possible, then we will always be prepared to litigate on your behalf.
Q: How is the house split in a divorce?
A: The easiest way to divide marital property is to sell it and split the profits. However, this is not always in either party’s best interests, especially if there are children involved. Another option would be for one partner to keep the home and for the other to keep other assets of similar value. However, if one spouse has primary custody of the couple’s children, then it may be possible for them to keep the home regardless.
Q: How is Debt Divided?
A: After divorce, any debt acquired during the course of the marriage is community property and subject to division. Student debt is an exception to this rule. It is also possible to argue that debt shouldn’t belong to you if the other spouse is clearly responsible for it.
Q: What Happens to Our Business We Built Together?
A: If you and your ex-spouse have a business together, then it’s important you have legal representation from someone with experience in these types of cases. They will help you work out how to break the business up or how to compensate a spouse that leaves without the business.
Some couples want to continue working together in a business, while others would prefer to separate it. At Skillern Firm, we take a personalized approach so that we can best meet your needs.
Q: What if My Spouse is Hiding Assets?
A: If you suspect that your ex-spouse is hiding assets, then you should contact Skillern Firm as soon as possible. We will track down hidden assets, including offshore accounts, investments, and real estate, and will ensure that they are considered in your divorce decree.
Contact Skillern Firm In Houston Today
Obtaining legal representation from Skillern Firm may be the best decision you ever make. As family law attorneys, we know how important the outcome of your divorce may be for both you and your family, and we will do everything in our power to secure your future.
Every attorney on our team has the dedication, skill, and experience to protect your rights. Whether you need mediation or negotiation, or litigation from a team of national trial lawyers, we have your back.
Our attorneys know how to allocate and divide property in the fairest and most reasonable manner, and this makes it much more likely that the Judge finds your arrangements agreeable.
Give us a call today at 936-213-8479 and arrange a phone consultation with a Greater Houston property division lawyer who has your best interests at heart.