Property division is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Who gets what is a difficult question to answer, particularly when two people have been married for several years. In the state of Texas, you need an experienced divorce attorney to help you reach a fair compromise and keep the assets you hold most dear. At Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC, we help individuals reach property division terms that make sense, and allow our clients to start healing.
Defining Property Under Texas Law
Texas defines marriage property as either community or separate. Community property includes all financial assets and belongings a couple acquires during marriage, including real estate and housing, debt, stocks, pensions, and benefits. Anything that a couple obtained before marriage is separate and will go back to the original owner. Gifts and inheritances are also separate property.
In addition to separate and community categories, some assets may fall under a mixed-character definition. Individuals may share a percentage of ownership in assets that are paid for with separate and community assets, for example.
Gifts can become complex if couples disagree about who was the intended recipient. In some cases, gifts and other property split between spouses remains separate property that is shared equally, instead of community property. Property can also raise concerns, particularly if one spouse owned a home before marriage, but paid down the mortgage debt during marriage. Unless you and your spouse can easily agree on who gets what, you will likely need the assistance of an attorney to classify property and help you determine financial fairness.
Before a divorce, most people misunderstand the law to state that they are entitled to half of all community property. In reality, they are entitled to an equitable and just division. Because of this standard, many couples spend a significant amount of time accounting the value of different assets. High net worth couples and those who share a business or other assets may hire an accountant and/or appraisers to assess the value of a piece of community property.
Factors that may affect how a court determines what is equitable and just include:
- Physical health or age differences
- The determination of fault in a divorce
- Income and income earning differences
- Potential inheritances
- Tax considerations
- Child custody
- Spousal support
- Losses an innocent spouse sustained as a result of the divorce
Property Settlement Agreement
Couples can create a formal property settlement agreement before or after filing for divorce. Some separated couples choose to file a property settlement agreement before petitioning for divorce. Once filed, the document becomes legally binding and both spouses must adhere to the terms set forth. The agreement may include stipulations regarding property division, spousal support, child custody, and other pertinent concerns that require resolution. To ensure you protect your rights, consider consulting a divorce attorney before filing a property settlement agreement in court.
If your property settlement agreement failed to divide all property, you can ask the courts to make a division decision after divorce. When spouses hide assets or fail to represent the value of property correctly, the other spouse has the right to ask for a division amendment.
Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC, and Property Division
Retain an attorney you can trust to protect your fair portion of property. For decades, our law firm has given local couples the support needed to get through a challenging time. During property division, we use the latest techniques to uncover all assets in a relationship and assign proper valuation for each piece of community property. We specialize in both civilian and military divorces, and can help you with every aspect of your divorce. Call us today for a free case evaluation.