Texas divorces can both be more and less complex than those that take place in other states, due to Texas being one of only a handful of states that operate under community property laws.
If you are a Texas resident, you have no doubt heard about community property, which deals with marital property in a much more direct-split way than the majority of states do. While there are some exceptions, property that is held by either spouse in a marriage is considered to be equally owned by both parties, and therefore requires an equal division. In fact, property is generally assumed to be community property unless proven otherwise.
So what types of property may be exempt from a half-and-half split under Texas law?
There are few varieties of non-community property in the Lone Star state, broadly defined as property that is “owned or claimed before marriage, [or] acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent.” This typically means that property may not be subject to equal division if it is some form of gift, even if that gift is meant to be given to both spouses. Likewise, an inheritance or a family heirloom would not be treated as community property, but proof may need to be provided regarding how some asset was acquired.
It is also worth mentioning that property that an individual owns prior to a marriage, be it a vehicle or a home, does not need to be treated as community property, either. Likewise, money that was awarded to one spouse as part of a personal injury settlement may not be considered community property — assuming that the funds were not sought as recovery for lost wages or medical debt that would itself be community property.
Despite the laws that are intended to simplify divorce in the state, without proper guidance, reaching a divorce settlement anywhere in the country can be emotionally and financially draining. If you are ready to take control of your divorce, the assistance of a professional, experienced family law attorney can help you navigate this difficult season and put you on the path to a fresh start.
Source: Findlaw, “Texas Marital Property Laws,” accessed Nov. 23, 2016