Divorce can be a complex and emotionally challenging process, especially when dividing shared assets and debts. In Texas, community property laws guide the property division process.
Understanding these laws can help you make the right decisions as you negotiate a separation or divorce agreement.
Community property vs. separate property
In Texas, property acquired during a marriage is generally considered community property. Both spouses have an equal ownership interest in these assets, regardless of who earned the income or whose name is on the title.
Separate property includes assets either spouse owned before the marriage. It also covers property only one spouse received as a gift or inherited during the marriage. Separate property typically remains with the owner in a divorce.
The property division process
The court’s primary goal is to ensure the equitable division of community property. While this often means a 50/50 split, it does not have to be a literal 50% division of each asset. Instead, the court considers various factors to make a fair decision for both spouses.
Factors considered in property division
Texas courts review these factors when dividing community property:
- Each spouse’s earning capacity and financial circumstances
- The age, health and physical conditions of each spouse
- Any discrepancies in education and employment opportunities
- Custody arrangements and which spouse will have primary custody of the children
- Any separate property brought into the marriage by either spouse
- Any wasteful or fraudulent behavior by one spouse regarding community property
According to the Houston Chronicle, the average state household has more than $9,200 in debt. Texas follows the same community property principles for assets when dividing debts. Both spouses are generally responsible for debts incurred during the marriage.
You can also negotiate a property settlement with your spouse outside of court. This agreement outlines the division of properties and debts. You must submit it to the court for approval before it becomes legally binding.