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Understanding property division during a Texas divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2020 | Divorce

While fewer Americans are divorcing than in past decades, the experience remains common in the U.S. The American Psychological Association reports that 40% to 50% of couples nationwide ultimately go their separate ways. 

When facing divorce, determining who gets what can be a confusing, contentious and emotional process, especially when a couple has significant assets. In Texas, if spouses cannot agree on how to divide property, the court distributes assets according to state law. 

What does it mean that Texas is a community property state? 

Texas is one of nine U.S. states that considers most types of assets that either partner acquires during the marriage community property. Community property belongs equally to both partners and upon divorce is subject to division by the court. 

Community property may encompass many types of assets. In addition to physical property, such as houses, jewelry, artwork or vehicles, community assets may include retirement benefits, earned income, bank accounts and investments, regardless of which spouse’s name is on a title or account. 

What types of assets are not community property? 

Unless intermingled with community assets, property that either partner owned before the marriage remain his or her separate property during the marriage and after divorce. Other examples of separate property may include gifts and inheritances made to only one spouse, profits from separate property investments and payments from personal injury settlements. 

Do the courts divide community property 50/50? 

The law recognizes an equal division of community property as the default. However, the law also grants the court the discretion to award a greater portion to one partner based on certain factors. A judge may consider a range of specific circumstances, including the earning capacity and education level of each spouse, how long the marriage lasted and what types of economic and non-economic contributions each spouse made to the marriage and family. 

Can divorcing spouses avoid litigating property division decisions? 

When a divorce goes before a judge, the court has the final say on dividing assets. Even if spouses cannot come to an agreement on their own, they may be able to avoid litigation by negotiating through a third-party mediator.