Texas is a community property state. That means anything and everything you acquired during the marriage is shared, equally.
The process for dividing marital property and other assets in a divorce can be a big hurdle for some. In a Texas divorce, the court is required to divide the property in a “just and right” manner.
As you go through your divorce, you may be thinking that means “half of everything” belongs to you. But the law has more distinction than that. The court is not required to divide the property equally but must divide it equitably, and may order a disproportionate division if it has a reasonable basis to do so.
A trial court may consider a number of factors in dividing marital property. Factors include the nature of the property, income disparity, business opportunity, relative financial conditions and obligations, education, physical condition, age, fault in the break-up, the benefit the innocent spouse would have received if the marriage continued, the size of the separate estates, and the probable need for future support.
Steps to take when determining, valuing, and dividing marital property and assets in a divorce include:
- Step 1: Before dividing marital property and assets, a comprehensive list of all property and other assets needs to be determined. List each property, whether separate or joint, include everything you own.
- Step 2: Each asset will need to be determined if it is community property or separate property. Community property includes all property you and your spouse have at the time of the divorce (except for property that a spouse can prove is a separate property of one spouse). Separate property must have “clear and convincing” evidence that it belongs to one spouse. Otherwise, it is considered to be community property. In Texas, separate property is defined as what each person inherits before and during the marriage, brings into the marriage, receives as a gift during the marriage and receives as personal-injury proceeds.
- Step 3: Determine the value of each community property asset. Write what each property is worth next to each description and try to assign each property a fair-market value. In most cases, couples agree on how to split up the household items. If the items need to be valued, they are done so at garage-sale prices.
- Step 4: Determine “just and right” division of marital assets. Write how each property might be divided.
There are no guarantees in dividing property in divorce. Negotiations go back and forth, and couples need to understand the aspects of their property to know how it will affect their future financial security. Who gets what will most likely be the result of negotiating between spouses. Knowing what to negotiate for is crucial.
If you are facing a divorce, an experienced Texas divorce attorney can assist you in pursuing your fair share of the marital assets. Contact the Family Law Firm of C.E. Borman & Associates at 979-846-4090 for an appointment.