Texas is one of nine Community Property states in the United States. This means that any property accumulated during a marriage belongs to both spouses, whether or not they earned the income that paid for the property.
In Texas, community property isn’t limited to real estate; it also includes other assets and liabilities such as income, dividends, pensions, retirement plans, and other property. Even personal items, such as clothing, jewelry, collectibles, and pets are considered to be community property.
There are exceptions, and anything that is not community property is considered separate property. Separate property includes property acquired as gifts, inheritances, and items owned before the marriage. Whoever owns the separate property has the burden to show proof that it is separate property.
How is Property Divided Between Spouses in a Texas Divorce?
While both spouses are entitled to community property, it isn’t the case that the spouses just get half of everything. Instead, Texas courts divide property in a “just and fair manner.”
A couple can voluntarily agree to this division or a court can make a ruling which is based on a specific set of factors. Along the way, it’s important that the couple agrees on a property’s value, or the court will establish the value. Valuations can be best guesses, or the parties can hire experts, such as appraisers, to value property. These valuations play an important role in the legal property division process.
If a mutual agreement cannot be made, then the judge will decide how the property will be divided. Similar to the factors used in determining spousal support, a court may consider each party’s earning capacity, educational background, childrearing responsibility, age, and/or health differences, and each spouse’s post-divorce needs.
Again, the focus is on overall fairness rather than a clean split down the middle. For example, one spouse may reap a larger portion of the value if that spouse is going to be the primary caregiver for children. A court might also unevenly divide the property if one partner has committed economic misconduct (such as fraud or financial squandering).
Property division in Texas allows both parties to receive a portion of their shared property. However, these divisions can be contentious, and it’s best to be represented by a divorce attorney during this process.
At Alexandra Geczi PLLC Family Law, we have experienced divorce lawyers who help women navigate the divorce process in Texas and guide them to obtaining a fair financial split.