If you’re preparing for a divorce, you probably have questions about the process and how to divide your assets with your spouse. Texas is a community property state. That means both parties equally own any property acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions.
The courts typically divide property in a way they deem right and just. That doesn’t necessarily mean you and your spouse have to split assets 50/50. It depends on specific contributing factors.
How to Classify Property in a Texas Divorce
There’s a difference between community property and separate property that can affect how the court divides a couple’s assets.
Community property includes anything one or both people acquire during their marriage, such as:
- Motor vehicles
- Checking and savings accounts, regardless of whether they’re jointly or individually owned
- Life insurance policies
- Payment of lost wages and unemployment compensation
- A house and other real estate
- Income from employment, including tips, wages, salaries, and overtime
- Contributions to a 401K, pension, or another retirement account
Separate property is property one person acquired before getting married or received during the marriage under these circumstances:
- Inheritance from a deceased family member
- A home purchased before entering the marriage
- A motor vehicle gifted by a parent
- Contributions made to a retirement account before marriage
- Personal injury settlement from injuries suffered in a car accident, excluding compensation for lost wages
- Jewelry received from spouse for a birthday, Christmas, or another holiday
One or both people might also be entitled to a reimbursement claim for specific separate property. For example, if you used separate assets to pay for a lien on your marital home, you could request reimbursement for the value of the total mortgage payments you made while you were married.
Factors Contributing to the Division of Property
The courts will consider a range of factors to determine how to divide property during a divorce. These factors could include:
- Age of each spouse
- Length of the marriage
- Each person’s ability to financially support themselves
- Whether fault contributed to the end of the marriage, such as adultery or domestic abuse
- Both party’s mental and physical health
- Which person has primary custody, if there are children involved
- Income of each spouse
- Education indicating possible employment and earning potential
- Whether the asset is community property or separate property
- Tax penalties for dividing specific assets
- Amount of debt owed by each person
- Eligibility for reimbursement claims
Judges divide property using their discretion. They often base their decision on what they believe is fair and might weigh one factor more heavily than another.
Dividing Property During Mediation
Mediation is a useful tool for dividing property between divorcing spouses. If you don’t want the judge to determine which assets you can leave the marriage with, you might be better off trying to settle the matter with your spouse outside of court. That way, you have more control over the outcome.
During mediation, you and your spouse meet with a mediator and your lawyers to settle the terms of your divorce. It’s critical to write a detailed list of all community and separate property, including the total value of each.
You can offer a proposal to the other party regarding which property you believe is rightfully yours and how you should divide community assets. Your spouse can also propose how you should divide the property. You will go back and forth until you reach an agreement.
If you can agree on the division of property, the mediator can prepare a written agreement reflecting the decisions made during mediation. Both you and your spouse must sign the agreement, as must each of your attorneys.
Why You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer
If you or your spouse decide to file for divorce, you should hire a lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can guide you through legal proceedings and determine which assets belong to you. If you attempt to handle the process yourself, you could end up walking away without the property you deserve.
Contact Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. Today
The divorce lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. will be your advocates during this difficult time in your life. We understand the challenges you face while going through a divorce. You will have a dedicated and compassionate legal team by your side throughout the entire process.
You can depend on us to provide you with personalized services and attention until the end. You will be our top priority while we’re working on your case. We can review all relevant circumstances and create a strategy to divide the property in a manner that meets your needs.
If you’re going through a divorce and need a trusted and experienced lawyer to assist you with property division, call Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. at (210) 349-9933 right now. We can meet with you during a confidential consultation to advise you about your legal options.