How would a divorce court handle property division in Texas?

One of the greatest fears you may have when contemplating divorce is losing the property you have worked for over the years or not having sufficient assets to move forward after the divorce.

This is a common fear for people with varying income levels and net worth. Texas is a community property state, which means that you do not have to fight for your share - although there are many ways you could divide the property.

How does a community property state work?

In a community property state, any property you and your spouse acquire during your marriage is deemed a part of the community estate or considered marital property. With limited exceptions, you have a 50 percent interest in all community property during a divorce proceeding.

What is included as marital property? Here are a few examples:

  • 401(k)s and pensions
  • real estate
  • Oil and gas interests
  • Mortgage and the marital home
  • Interest earned through business operations and investments
  • Wages that either spouse earned while married,
  • Furniture

Separate property, on the other hand, includes any item that either spouse owned prior to getting married, or any item that a spouse received as a gift or inheritance. In addition, any money that either spouse earned following their separation date is considered separate property and thus is not subject to the state's community property laws.

What factors may affect property division in a community property state?

Texas is one of nine states, along with Puerto Rico, that has established community property laws. These laws are different from states that follow the principle of equitable distribution, where a judge determines what is a fair or equitable division. However, even in a community property state, certain factors might warrant the uneven distribution of debt or property. These factors might include marital fault and disparity of the spouses' earning capacities.

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