Property division is one of the most heavily disputed issues in Texas divorce cases. Under Texas laws, almost all property obtained by couples during a marriage legally belongs to both partners, which can make dividing marital assets particularly tricky when couples divorce.
While it’s certainly possible to get a divorce in Texas without splitting certain assets, both spouses would likely need to agree to such a decision in advance. If spouses disagree, they may need a mediator or family law judge to make the decision for them.
What If I Want to Keep My Assets After Divorce?
If you want to keep certain assets after divorce, your right to do so will depend on whether those assets are legally your own separate property or “community property” that’s part of your marital estate.
You are, of course, entitled to keep your own property after divorce. However, when it comes to keeping assets that are considered marital property, things can get more complicated.
Since you and your spouse are both equally entitled to marital assets, you can typically only keep a marital asset for yourself if you “buy out” your spouse’s share of the asset. You don’t necessarily need to use cash for such a buyout. You can also use your share of other marital assets, such as cars or retirement funds, to buy out assets you want.
What Is a Community Property State?
In the U.S., states primarily use two methods to determine how property should be divided in a divorce.
Equitable division, the first method, divides marital property “equitably” or “fairly” between each spouse during a divorce. In equitable division states, “equitable” is not necessarily the same as an “equal” 50-50 split.
Community property, the second method, assumes that an equal portion of all marital property belongs to both spouses, no matter who purchased the assets or who has more individual assets. In community property states, including Texas, the courts decide what counts as marital property and how to divide it in a divorce.
How Is Community Property Divided in a Divorce?
In Texas divorce cases, all property is considered community property by default unless an individual can prove it is their separate property. Separate property is anything either spouse owns before marriage or anything they inherit or receive as a gift during the marriage.
Everything else is community property, which Texas courts are required to divide in a “just and right” manner. However, this does not always mean each spouse gets an equal share of the marital assets.
Texas courts can order an unequal division of marital assets if:
- One spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage
- There is a significant disparity in earning capacity between each spouse
- There is a significant disparity in each spouse’s health
- There is a significant disparity in each spouse’s education level
- There is a significant disparity in each spouse’s employability
- One spouse has primary or sole custody of any children in common
How Could a Prenuptial Agreement Help?
Many people view prenuptial agreements as unromantic and pessimistic. However, a well-established prenuptial agreement can provide several valuable benefits to both partners, such as:
- Allowing each spouse to protect their separate property
- Avoiding astronomical legal expenses in the future
- Protecting each spouse from their partner’s debts
- Avoiding future financial disputes or disagreements
- Providing for children or loved ones from previous relationships
- Protecting business interests or special family assets
Contact a Texas Divorce Lawyer Today
If you have questions about your legal rights before, during, or after a Texas divorce, the knowledgeable Texas divorce attorneys of Hargrave Law, PC, can help. Contact us today to learn more in your initial case evaluation.