Divorce in Texas: Property Rights

Divorce in Texas

One of the hardest parts of divorce is the division of property, and to complicate things further: every state deals with it a little differently. That is why it matters where you live and where you file for divorce. States generally fall into one of two camps. Most states rely on equitable distribution, which means assets are divided between the couple fairly based on the duration of the marriage and their personal circumstances. The standards are loose and lean heavily on a judge's perception and power. There is a minority of states, Texas included, that use "community property" rules. Community property is all property, other than separate property, acquired by either party during marriage.  There is a common misconception that community property will simply be divided in half. The truth is that the court has the authority to make what is called a "just and right" division of the community property.  It is not always clear what that will be, and the court has the discretion to take several factors into account in making this decision. In Texas, a judge will not consider certain properties community. These include property protected by a valid and enforceable pre- or post- marital agreement or the separate property of a party, which includes: •    Property owned prior to marriage; •    Property acquired during the marriage by gift, devise or descent; and •    The recovery for personal injuries sustained during the marriage (except for loss of earning capacity). But even this property is presumed to be community property, and the spouse who wants to protect his or her property from being divided by the court will have the burden of proving why it should not be. Most people going through a divorce in Texas have numerous assets to divide, including real estate, personal property, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, automobiles, retirement benefits, 401(k) accounts, IRA accounts, royalties, patents, income, and life insurance. It's a long list, and it is daunting to think that there are things you consider yours that won't be viewed as such by the court. But it's also important to remember that much like property is shared during divorce, so are debts and liabilities.  It's important to have a Texas divorce attorney at your side that you can trust to help you navigate through the complexities of a property division to make sure you get what is just and right. To learn more about Property Rights in Texas or discuss a possible divorce in McKinney contact Puhl and Berbarie at 972-569-3166.

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