In the U.S., states can follow one of two methods of distributing property during a divorce; equitable division or community property. Texas is one of nine jurisdictions that follows the community property doctrine. Under this theory, the law presumes that all of the property a couple acquired during the marriage equally belongs to both spouses. Spouses who wish to assert separate ownership over a piece of property must prove sole ownership.
Under Texas Family Code Ann. § 3.0001, separate property is anything one spouse owned before marriage. Further, separate property includes certain property a spouse acquired during the marriage. For example, separate property may include:
- An inheritance one spouse received.
- Property gifted from the husband or wife.
- Compensation for personal injuries.
However, it is essential to note that courts do not consider personal injury damages related to earning capacity loss as separate property. A party contesting community property presumption over an item must prove ownership by a preponderance of the evidence.
Dividing community property during the divorce process is a complex and often contentious part of the proceedings. Judges will typically divide property while considering what is “just and right” or “equitable.” Judges will look at many factors when engaging in this process. Some important factors include fault in the marriage breakup, the disparity in earning capability, each spouse’s health, education and future employability and, custody over children.
In addition to these factors, complications often arise when assessing a party’s pension and employment benefits. A party’s accumulation of retirement benefits, pension, and other employee benefits is considered community property. Like other community property assets, courts do not have to divide pension and retirement accounts equally between the parties.
Further, many couples maintain closely held business interests or jointly own a professional practice. In these cases, judges must evaluate a business or professional practice in their community property division decision. In these cases, any interest in the business or professional practice during the marriage is subject to community property distribution. Issues tend to arise in quantifying a spouse’s “goodwill.” Goodwill refers to the intangible benefit that one party received from the other spouse’s support and reputation. Property division is just one part of many stressful aspects of a Texas divorce proceeding. An attorney is an invaluable asset that can mitigate stress and tension during a divorce.
Contact a Texas Property Division Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce or are going through a separation or divorce, contact the dedicated Texas family law attorneys at Guest & Gray. Our top-rated legal team has extensive experience successfully representing clients during all stages of their divorce and custody proceedings. Our attorneys handle Texas family law matters involving adoptions, alimony, child custody, child support, CPS investigations, modifications, divorce, enforcement, grandparent rights, mediation, paternity lawsuits, post-marital agreements, and restraining orders. We strive to secure favorable outcomes for our clients at every stage of their family law cases. Contact our office at 972-564-4644 to schedule a free and initial consultation with an experienced Texas family law attorney on our team.