Texas Divorce Lawyers Assisting with Property and Asset Division in Bedford, TX and Throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Area
Going through a divorce is complicated under any circumstances, and divorce cases can become particularly heated and contentious when it comes to the process of dividing property and assets. As you may know, Texas is a community property state. Accordingly, community property is divided between the spouses, and separate property typically is retained by each of the spouses. However, the court has discretion when it comes to distribution of community property in a manner that it determines to be appropriate.
When you are planning to file for divorce or are in the early stages of the divorce process, it is more important than ever to have a Texas property division lawyer on your side to represent you through the process of the division of community property.
Dividing Community Property in Texas
Under the Texas Family Code, Texas is a “community property” state. There are only nine community property states in the country, while the remaining states are known as “equitable distribution states.” In many community property states, any property acquired by either of the spouses after the marriage is classified as community property and is divided 50-50 between them. In Texas, however, the law clarifies that the court must divide community property in a manner that it “deems just and right.” Accordingly, Texas courts can look at a wide variety of factors when determining what a “just and right” distribution of community property looks like.
In order to divide community property, which includes both debts and assets from the marriage, the court first must classify all property as separate or community property.
Classifying Community and Separate Property in Texas
Texas courts begin from the presumption that property in the possession of either spouse at the time of the divorce is community property unless that spouse can prove otherwise. The evidentiary standard for proving that property is not community property and instead should be classified as separate property is the standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a higher evidentiary standard than the common “preponderance of the evidence standard.” As such, a spouse who believes she or he owns substantial separate property that is not subject to division needs to have an experienced Texas divorce lawyer who can help to prove that the property or assets in question should not be distributed.
According to the Texas Family Code, community property “consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage.” The statute further explains that separate property typically includes any of the following:
- Property owned or claimed by either spouse prior to the date of marriage;
- Property acquired by only one of the spouses during the marriage through a gift or an inheritance; and/or
- Property recovered by one of the parties during the marriage as a personal injury settlement or verdict for personal injuries and related losses during the marriage.
In addition, property that is expressly classified as separate property through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be upheld by the court as long as it is enforceable.
Liability for Fraud on the Community
If one of the spouses intentionally depletes community property or takes actions to conceal or hide certain community property so that it will not be divided, that spouse may be guilty of fraud on the community. In such cases, the court will determine the amount of community assets lost as a result of fraud on the community, will add them back into the “reconstituted estate,” and will divide that reconstituted estate in a manner it deems just and right.
The wronged spouse can also be awarded a money judgment as a result of the fraud on the community.
Contact an Asset & Property Division Lawyer in Texas
Do you need help with your divorce or property division case? An experienced Texas community property division attorney can begin working with you on your case today. Contact Hargrave Law, PC for more information.