Texas is a community property state, which means that everything that comes in or is purchased during the marriage is presumed to be community property. For example, all equity that builds up in a house purchased during the marriage is community property, regardless of which spouse is making the payments. Likewise, all retirement funds earned during the marriage are considered community property.
By the same token, the debts taken on by either husband or wife or both are also presumed to belong to both. There are rare cases where a debt incurred during the marriage would solely be the responsibility of the person who incurred the debt. However, usually all community debt is factored into the final division of property.
Inheritances or gifts are considered separate property…so long as the person claiming it is an inheritance or gift can prove so. Throughout my years handling divorce cases, I have worked with many clients who did not get legal advice when they received an inheritance and did not take steps to ensure that money they received as a gift or inheritance was kept separate. Comingling of separate and community property funds will make it difficult to divide it out properly down the road.
So, how does the division of assets work during a divorce? During a divorce, the attorneys for each party will work to create an accurate and complete picture of marital assets and liabilities. Some of this can be done through discovery, a formal process where one side can ask for information from the other. Often, however, it is done more informally where both parties list what they believe to be the assets and liabilities of the marriage.
Once the attorneys have a complete picture of what the complete “pie” of marital assets and liabilities looks like, we begin to work on how the assets can be divided.
In most cases, the presumption in Texas is that marital assets will be split nearly 50-50. There are instances where one spouse will be entitled to a disproportionate share of the martial estate. Even then, the division will not wander too far from that 50-50 line.
Every situation is different, and it is important that you discuss the specific details of your case with an attorney to make sure your interests are protect.
If you would like to talk with a family law attorney about the specifics of your situation, call Hatton & Hatton at (817) 349-8120.