Part of any divorce in Texas is figuring out how to characterize the property owned by the two spouses. If you are considering a divorce or have just been served with a petition by divorce filed by your spouse, you are probably wondering how all the "stuff" you and your spouse own will be divided in the divorce.
Today's blog from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is designed with you in mind if that is the case.
Separate property vs. Community property
Property in the context of a divorce is typically divided up into three categories. Most everyone going through a divorce knows that Texas is a community property state. This represents the first of the three categories.
Community property is any property acquired by either you or your spouse during your marriage, with a few exceptions for inherited property and things of that nature.
Both you and your spouse have your separate estates as well, meaning that each of you can own property separately from one another. Essentially, any property you owned before your marriage is categorized as separate property belonging to either of you.
When we think about the separate property, the theory in Texas is that because you or your spouse owned the property before you ever got married, the other spouse has no claim to whatever property is being discussed.
Can you contribute money to your spouse's separate property and be reimbursed?
You may contribute money and resources that benefit your spouse's separate property. For example, if your spouse owns a home that is in actuality her particular property, but your income has been used to pay for a renovation of the kitchen or towards the mortgage itself, you are in a position where the community estate has been used to benefit the separate estate of your spouse.
A reimbursement claim can allow you to be recouped for that expenditure.
However, not all money spent by the community estate on one of your or your spouse's separate estates can be reimbursed. Let's review those expenditures that are reimbursable.
- If your community estate has been used to pay for an improvement to your spouse's separate estate, then you may be able to be reimbursed in your divorce for that expenditure. An example of this situation would be your having paid to build a tennis court on the property owned by your spouse, which is his separate property.
- The community estate pays towards the separate debt (a mortgage or a credit card, for example) of your spouse's different estate.
- The other big area that I have seen reimbursement occur is if you work for your spouse's business which is later determined to be his separate property, and you were not paid for that work or were paid an insufficient amount. In this scenario, you can push to be reimbursed during your divorce.
Suppose a judge does order a reimbursement payment be made from your spouse's separate estate. In that case, that payment will go towards whichever estate- your different estate or the community estate- actually contributed to the particular property of your spouse.
If it were the community estate, that payment would need to be divided up just and right like all other property included in the community estate.
The State of Texas sees reimbursement as a means to make to even out the contributions that one spouse's separate property or their jointly held property made to the other's individual property. As we have previously discussed, these contributions can take the form of money or the state of labor.
Presenting a claim for reimbursement in your divorce case at large
It is one thing to believe that you have a chance for a refund and another to prove that reimbursement case. To win a reimbursement case, you must be able to show a court that a contribution was made- either from your separate estate or from the community estate- towards the benefit of your spouse's different estate.
Once you can establish that a contribution was made and that it falls into one of the categories above, you will need to prove the value of that contribution.
Having documentary evidence to help prove a claim for reimbursement can be incredibly helpful.
Documents related to the closing on a house or piece of property, bank transaction records, and other financial instruments can assist you and your attorney in determining if you have a leg to stand on when it comes to presenting a reimbursement claim before a judge.
These are complex issues and often require the assistance of an outside expert to help determine what property belongs in what estate. With that said, you should always hire an attorney to represent you and assist you in making these determinations.
Family law attorneys have experience helping people like you make difficult decisions regarding their divorce, and I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to have an attorney advocating for you in a reimbursement situation.
Your attorney can assist you in stating to the court and your spouse the nature of your reimbursement claim, which should be made in your original petition for divorce.
Questions on divorce or reimbursement claims? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today.
If you have any questions related to this article or any other subject in family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. One of our licensed family law attorneys is available six days a week to answer your questions in a free-of-charge consultation.
Divorce is not an easy process to go through, and you need an experienced advocate on your side. Our office proudly represents clients across southeast Texas, and we would be proud to do the same for you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Issues in Community Property Law in Texas
- Who decides how your community property is split during a Texas divorce?
- Interim Attorney's Fees in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)
- Dividing Property in a Texas Divorce - The Just and Right Division
- What Wikipedia Can't Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
- Texas Divorce Property Division Enforcement
- Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
- Does it Matter Whose Name is on Title or Deed of Property in a Divorce in Texas?
- Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce
- Business Owners and Business Assets in a Texas Divorce
- What to do when your divorce decree does not include a marital asset?
- High Net Worth Divorce / High Asset Divorce
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.