Texas Court of Appeals Rejects Property Division in Divorce Decree

Texas divorces that include many assets can be complicated. The State of Texas follows laws that assume all property obtained by a couple in the course of their marriage is “community property” that should be divided equally in the event of a divorce. Many factors can come into play to rebut this presumption of community property. As a result, Texas family courts sometimes divide assets unequally in the interest of fairness. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a claim by a divorced spouse that the family court incorrectly awarded a piece of property to his ex, when it should have been awarded to him as his separate property.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the parties in the recently decided case were married in 1997. Each party had significant assets prior to their marriage, and they agreed to a premarital agreement (PMA) before getting married. Under the PMA (colloquially known as a prenup), each party retained an exclusive individual interest in the property they owned before the marriage, as well as their respective incomes earned during the marriage. While married, the couple acquired several pieces of real property, as well as many business interests. Although the PMA was clear about the parties’ individual property and incomes, the parties appeared to commingle their assets in a way that made it difficult to determine what money was used to purchase each property.

In 2012, the parties filed for divorce. As part of the divorce proceedings, the properties and assets of the couple were divided. The family court determined that fourteen pieces of real property, which were deeded in the husband’s name, were actually community property as they were purchased with commingled assets. After the ruling was final, the husband appealed the decision to the Texas Court of Appeals, arguing that the properties should have been determined to be his own individual property based on the PMA and other factors.

The high court affirmed the lower court’s ruling regarding 13 of the properties, holding that they were purchased with commingled assets and that the wife was entitled to half of the value of such properties. One of the properties, which was exclusively deeded to the husband as his “own separate property “ from his wife, was determined to be his own sole property. As a result of the appellate ruling, the former husband will be awarded one piece of the disputed property free and clear from any claims by his ex.

Legal Representation in High Asset, High Conflict Divorces

Almost all divorces can be difficult, emotional, and complicated endeavors. For divorcing couples who share (or individually own) valuable assets, the process can be even more difficult. The determination of what is individual versus community property is highly fact-dependent, and judges have broad discretion to determine what property belongs to whom. Because of this, it is important for a divorcing party to retain qualified legal representation before a divorce petition is even filed. The experienced Texas divorce attorneys at Guest and Gray understand what’s at stake in a high asset divorce, and we know how to fight for the property that our clients are entitled to. If you or a loved one is anticipating a divorce, contact us to discuss your case. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Texas on a variety of family law issues, including divorce cases. Contact our offices at 972-564-4644 and schedule a free consultation today.

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