According to the American Community Survey, the divorce rate for Texas residents in 2021 was 9.9%. If you are navigating a divorce in Texas, one of the most pressing concerns revolves around property division. Understandably, you want to know how you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will divide your assets.
Texas operates under community property laws, which might differ from what you expect, and you might have many questions regarding the process.
What does community property mean?
Community property refers to all assets and debts that you and your spouse acquire during the marriage. This means that both of you equally own everything purchased, accumulated or incurred as debt during this time. It does not matter whose name appears on the title or who earned the income. The law views marriage as a partnership where both parties contribute equally.
How does Texas differentiate between community and separate property?
Separate property includes anything you owned before the marriage, gifts given specifically to you during the marriage and any inheritances received, regardless of when. Proving that an asset is separate property requires clear evidence, such as documentation or witnesses.
Will the court split everything 50-50?
While community property implies an equal division, it does not always mean a strict 50-50 split. Texas courts aim for a just and right division, which might result in one party receiving a larger portion based on various factors, such as disparity in earning power, age, health or the presence of minor children.
Who gets to stay in the marital home?
The decision about the marital home depends on various factors. If you have children, the parent with primary custody might get the house to provide stability. However, the other spouse might receive assets of equal value to offset the home’s equity. In some cases, the court orders the home’s sale and divides the proceeds.
How do courts handle debts in a divorce?
Just like assets, you and your spouse must divide any debts acquired during the marriage. This includes mortgages, credit card debts and loans. Remember that creditors can still pursue either spouse for joint debts, regardless of the divorce decree.
What about retirement accounts and pensions?
Retirement accounts and pensions earned during the marriage qualify as community property. Their division can become complex due to tax implications and other factors. Often, courts use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to address these accounts without incurring penalties.
Property division in a Texas divorce can seem overwhelming. By understanding the basics and the principles behind community property, you can approach the process with more clarity. Remember, every situation is unique, so consider the specifics of your case when thinking about property division.