Dividing property accumulated during a marriage can be one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. In Texas, property division follows specific guidelines aimed at ensuring a fair split between the spouses.
Understanding these laws when facing a divorce can help you make healthy financial choices for your future.
Community property vs. separate property
In Texas, the law distinguishes between two types of property: community property and separate property. Community property includes assets acquired during the marriage, such as income earned, real estate purchased and debts accumulated.
Separate property includes items owned by one spouse before the marriage. It also covers gifts, inheritances and personal injury awards received by just one spouse. The court generally divides community property between the spouses, while each spouse retains their separate property.
Equitable division of debts and assets
The goal is equitable division of property rather than equal division. The court divides assets fairly based on factors like each spouse’s earning capacity, contributions to the marriage and needs after the divorce. This approach allows for a more flexible and just distribution than splitting community property and debts in half.
Factors influencing property division
The court considers these factors:
- The duration of the marriage
- The financial contributions of each spouse
- The education and employability of both parties
- Any disparity in earning capacity
- Both spouses’ mental and physical health
Child custody arrangements also play a role in the final property division agreement. The Institute for Family Studies reports that 38% of divorced parents have joint custody of their children, which influences living arrangements and expenses.
You and your spouse can also negotiate property division outside of court. In this case, you must submit the agreement to the judge for approval. The court will make sure the arrangement is fair to both people, which is the ultimate goal of property division in Texas.