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The basics of property division in Texas

It took hard work, time and sacrifice to obtain the property you own. You need it for the future. A few assets you own have sentimental value in addition to financial worth. It's no surprise that asset division is one of the top contested issues for divorcing couples in Texas.

Understanding how the process works can help you plan your financial future and define your priorities.

Community property

Texas law adheres to the community property model. This means that, with limited exceptions, all assets and debt acquired throughout the duration of the marriage belong to both parties and subject to division.

Separate property

Separate property belongs solely to the spouse who acquired it and stays with that spouse after the divorce. This category includes property acquired before the marriage that was never integrated into the family finances, gifts, inheritances and some types of personal injury recoveries. Damages for lost wages form the exception; because the wages would have been community property, compensation for them also falls into that category.

The judge will want to see proof of the separate asset's origins before he or she exempts it from division.

Division

Unlike other community property states, Texas courts do not divide assets in half. Rather, judges assess the facts of each case and apportion the assets as they deem fair. Often, this can result in unequal division.

There are several factors you can expect to influence your property division. Some of the most common include custody arrangements, earning capacity, health conditions, the length of the marriage and the respective contributions of the parties, including non-financial contributions.

Today, most judges do not consider faults by either party that did not affect the finances. On the other hand, wasting or hiding assets can result in a larger part of the marital property going to the other spouse.

Alternatives to litigation

Of course, divorcing spouses do not have to wait for their case to arrive in front of a judge. A valid pre-nuptial agreement can settle some financial issues. The parties may also be able to resolve their disagreements privately or with the help of a mediator. They may then draw up an agreement reflecting the consensus. In most cases, judges will accept such agreements unless there is evidence of coercion or fraud.

Whether you anticipate litigating your property division or being able to reach an amicable agreement, be sure to consult an experienced family law attorney before committing to any course of action.

Your lawyer can evaluate the situation and help you protect your rights. A qualified attorney can also identify potential problem areas that may need input from an expert. If you do end up in court, having the right lawyer at your side every step of the way can help you achieve the outcome you need.

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Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC
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San Antonio, TX 78205

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