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Understanding community property laws in Texas

Part of divorcing includes splitting up marital property. You and your husband will have to divide the house, the bank accounts, the investment accounts and vacation property, and even your retirement accounts. While most states practice equitable distribution, Texas still adheres to the principles of community property. This means that, in general, the court will divide all marital property equally between the two of you.

Understanding how Texas courts divide marital property will help you determine the best course for your divorce settlement. An experienced attorney in the Pearland area can help you negotiate a divorce settlement that is fair and beneficial to you. Read further for an overview of Texas community property laws.

Community property

While community property usually means the court will divide things equally, it does not mean that the court will split all of your assets perfectly in half. The court will look at the circumstance under which you or your spouse acquired each piece of property. For example, if your husband purchased a plot of land prior to your marriage, that land may revert solely back to him regardless of any income generated by the property after you were married.

Separate property

There are typically two kinds of property in a marriage: separate property and community property. Separate property will normally not be a part of a divorce settlement. Examples of separate property include gifts, inheritances, family heirlooms, and anything you purchased before your marriage.

In order for property to be separate, you must be able to prove to the court that it is not community property.

Equal vs. equitable

Some states will divide community property equally. Other states, such as Texas, divide property equitably. When dividing property, a judge will examine several factors. For example, the court will look at your earning capacity, which of you has custody of the children, and if there are grounds for fault. Furthermore, the judge will also consider your mental and physical health, age differences and future inheritances.

Agreeing on a settlement

You and your ex-husband may be able to negotiate a fair divorce settlement outside of the courtroom. You do not have to let a judge decide which of you gets what as long as the two of you can reach a settlement that you both agree to. However, even if you reach such an agreement, you will still have to submit the settlement for the court's approval. If a judge signs off on it, the agreement will become legally binding and enforceable by the court.

If you are facing divorce, it is important to understand how community property laws in Texas will affect your settlement. Knowing what to expect will help you make decision about the things you should fight for and those you should let go.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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Board Certified | Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Family Law

John Powell, III is Board Certified in Family Law ~ Texas Board of Legal Specialization

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