Texas is a community property state when it comes to divorce

Navigating the divorce process can understandably be challenging from both a financial standpoint and an emotional one. This is the case whether you have years' or decades' worth of assets accumulated.

The reality is that, no matter what your net worth may be, the choices you make concerning the division of property during divorce can easily affect your financial situation long term. Let's take a look at what Texas law says about the division of assets in Texas.

Property division laws

Every possession you have accumulated with your spouse during your marriage is marital property. This means you have to split the property between yourselves during your divorce. However, how you split this property in Texas is different from how other states handle dividing property.

Most states practice equitable distribution. According to this principle, the court will divide possessions in a way that may not necessarily be equal but is equitable, or fair, according to various factors. However, a few states are community property states, meaning that they divide shared assets equally. Texas is one of these states, but it is unique in that it does not divide shared assets perfectly down the middle. Instead, the state looks at the statuses of assets when first acquired to determine how to split them.

Community property exclusions

Based on Texas' community property law, you are not required to divide separate property. Separate property refers to possessions that either you or the other party owned prior to your marriage. These items include, for example, an inheritance, a birthday gift or a family heirloom.

In addition, if you received an injury in a car accident before your marriage and received compensation in a personal injury claim, you do not have to divide the compensation you received unless you used it to purchase community property -- for example, a shared piece of real estate.

Your rights when dividing property in divorce

As you go through the divorce process, you may be able to resolve the issue of property division with the other party outside of court. For instance, you might arrive at a mutually satisfactory settlement during informal negotiations or mediation.

However, you may have to go to trial and have a judge tackle property division for you if you and the other party cannot find common ground in this area. Either way, with the help of a divorce attorney, you have the right to seek the most personally beneficial outcome possible given the circumstances.

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