Many people begin the divorce process with strong feelings about the things that they feel they should be able to take with them at the end of the relationship, but often discover that the law has a different idea of that ownership. Before you begin the process, let’s take a moment to set some realistic expectations for what you may face!
What is property? Isn’t that just land?
Most people consider property to mean land, or maybe a home. However, when we discuss property ownership during a divorce we could be talking about nearly anything. This can include a home, a set of furniture, money, jewelry, a bank account, a retirement account, Great-Aunt Gertrude’s pickle jar collection, or anything that has value to someone.
How Does Property Division Work in Texas?
When a couple divorces in Texas, the court expects both sides to provide information to each other about the property that is owned, who brought it into the marriage, and what was acquired during the marriage. Both sides may then present arguments as to why they believe they should be awarded the property that they wish to keep. The court will consider those arguments and then try to award the property in an equal and fair manner. However, before they can do so, the court will determine which property is separate property and which property is community property.
What is Separate Property?
Separate property is any property that one spouse owns before marriage, or that was acquired during the marriage by way of inheritance, gift or personal injury recovery. For instance, if one of the spouses receives their grandmother’s vintage collection of rhinestone jewelry as a gift, the court will likely determine that the jewelry is the separate property of that spouse. However, if the couple bids on the jewelry at auction and purchases it with their joint check account, it would likely be considered community property.
What is Community Property in Texas?
According to Texas law, community property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, excluding separate property. Community property may include a family home, vacation homes, bank accounts, cars, and personal family possessions. However, under Texas law, the "profits, products, and incomes of distinct property" are treated as separate property. In a divorce, all community property is held equally by the spouses, and both individuals split ownership. Even if only one party has title to the property, the property is presumed to be community property if it was obtained during the marriage.
Is Community Property Always Divided Equally?
In some cases, the court may decide to award community property unequally. Suppose the court determines that one married individual has more of an ownership claim over community property. In that case, it will evaluate the "honest and equitable" distribution of that marital property. The court may take into consideration several factors while splitting community property, including:
· The needs of the spouses and children.
· Who is at fault for the marriage ending.
· Who will take custody of the children.
· The married individual's ages and general health.
· Earning capacity of both spouses.
· The educational level of each partner.
Work With an Attorney That Can Help Protect Your Property Rights!
Because property ownership is a fundamental part of divorce proceedings, it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney who will work with you to ensure that you receive a fair share of the marital property.
If you have questions about property ownership during a divorce, please contact Catherine Witting at Blackbird Legal for your free legal consultation. You can also book a consultation by following this link: https://calendly.com/cwitting/30-minute-consultation.