Dividing your property and debt is one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce. It is important to understand Texas law when it comes to property division.
Community and separate property
Texas law views property that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage as community property. The same goes for any debt that you accumulated while you were married.
Any property or debt that either of you had before you were married is separate property. Some property acquired during the marriage can be labeled separate property, including gifts, inheritances, investment income and personal injury lawsuit or settlement proceeds.
Your personal property, such as clothes, furniture and other minor items, are legally considered community property if you bought them during the marriage. However, you typically do not need to list every single item of personal property in your final written divorce decree.
In many cases, personal property is not mentioned at all aside from perhaps some language stating that you and your spouse have already divided your personal property to your satisfaction.
Since you will probably be living separately at some point before your divorce is final, the court expects that you and your spouse will separate your personal belongings beforehand.
Property division in a divorce is typically intended to address major items of property such as houses, cars, retirement accounts or debts. Most judges do not want to decide issues such as “who is going to get the couch?”
Be prepared with detailed information
When addressing these major items of property, be prepared to provide detailed information to clearly identify the property. This includes things such as the legal description for pieces of real estate and vehicle identification numbers (“VIN”) for cars.
The overall result of property division is intended to be an equitable distribution of property. This does not mean “50/50”, but a division that is fair to both spouses.
Since property division can be complex and you want to make sure you are getting a fair deal, it is best to negotiate it with the help of an attorney. If you end up litigating property division in court, an attorney’s experience will be valuable.