How Do Property Issues Get Sorted Out in a Texas Divorce?

How Do Property Issues Get Sorted Out in a Texas Divorce?

Understanding how property division is made in a Texas divorce is crucial for anyone navigating this challenging process. Texas law has unique provisions for handling marital assets, making it essential to know your rights and responsibilities. This guide breaks down the key aspects of property division in Texas divorces, offering clear, practical insights to help you move forward with confidence.

Property Division in a Texas Divorce: An Overview

When you think about a divorce, does your mind immediately think of a courtroom with an old, stuffy judge in the front who is banging a gavel and deciding your fate? It does for most people based on what I have heard from folks who have come in for a free-of-charge consultation with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.

People think that their divorce will ride or die with how a judge perceives them and how that same judge perceives their spouse. If the judge had a bad tuna sandwich at lunch, that could affect how much child support is paid or what percentage of the community estate ends up going to a particular spouse.

Well, with all that said, I would like to put you at ease- somewhat. Most divorces in Texas do not result in the scenario as mentioned above being played out. You and your spouse may not even have to step before a judge until the very end of the divorce when one of you will do so only to tell them that you have a signed final decree of divorce ready for the judge’s signature. I hate to take some of the drama out of the process, but I figured I wouldn’t put you in suspense any longer.

What Role Could a Judge Play in the Property Portion of Your Divorce?

In Texas divorces, when spouses can’t agree on dividing their assets, a judge becomes the critical tiebreaker. This usually leads to a trial, a scenario most couples wish to avoid. Interestingly, about 95% of Texas divorce cases settle before reaching this stage, offering a glimmer of hope even to those with the most stubborn partners.

Attorneys, often misunderstood, are adept at guiding clients through negotiations towards amicable settlements. This process demands compromise, where both parties might feel a bit of discontent – a sign of a balanced and fair negotiation.

Cases that do end up in trial often involve unique, complex disputes, like disagreements over retirement fund divisions. However, it’s vital to weigh the costs. Legal fees for trial preparation can quickly consume any financial gains, especially for those not in the highest wealth brackets. Preparing for trial is not just about presenting your case; it involves meticulous evidence gathering, strategizing, and countering your spouse’s claims, a process that is both time-intensive and costly.

This section emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of judges and the value of negotiation in property division during Texas divorces. It highlights the complexities and potential costs involved in taking these issues to trial, advocating for informed decision-making and compromise where possible.

What Will a Judge Be Looking At in a Trial for Property Division?

How Do Property Issues Get Sorted Out in a Texas Divorce?

If your case makes it to a trial, then your judge will be working to apply the rules of the Texas Family Code regarding the property. They will determine the separate property of each of you and divide it as such. Testimonial and documentary evidence will be presented wherein you and your spouse will present your theories of the case as to why you should end up with a certain percentage of the money in your bank account, retirement account, etc.

Judges can freely judge circumstances and make assessments based on those circumstances as to what percentage of the marital estate goes to you and what percentage goes to your spouse. Two things to note here. First, it is a misnomer that parties to a divorce in Texas automatically start with a 50% share of the community estate. Fair and equitable does not mean 50/50, necessarily.

It could, but if you earn a sizeable annual income and your spouse is a stay-at-home parent who worked nights to put you through medical school, then she may be in line to receive a greater than 50% share of your marital estate.

Also, if you or your spouse have alleged fault grounds for your marriage- domestic abuse, adultery, etc.- this may entitle the aggrieved party to receive a disproportionate share of the community estate as well. Most divorces are no-fault nowadays, so don’t expect fault grounds to play a significant role in your case

Does It Matter if the Property in My Divorce Is All in My Spouse’s Name?

nt, etc., are all in their spouse’s word that they will walk out of the divorce with nothing to fall back on. Fortunately, if you find yourself in a similar position, you will not have to worry about this.

Texas, as a community property state, treats most items purchased with income earned during the marriage as community property, regardless of the name on the property’s title. This includes retirement savings accumulated during the marriage. You must determine the portion of the retirement account that existed before the marriage. You can subtract that from the account’s overall value to determine the community property value.

What Can You Do to Keep Your Separate Property Separate and Not Part of the Community Estate?

Keep your separate property (property owned before your marriage or acquired during your marriage by gift or descent from a will) in an account all its own, and keep the property titled in your name only. It will likely stay separate from your community estate. Keep your money that is the individual property in a different bank account than the one you deposit your paychecks into. Or, open up an investment account with stocks you inherited from your uncle, who passed away, and do not add the stocks into an investment account you share with your spouse.

How Do Property Issues Get Sorted Out in a Texas Divorce?

Finally, suppose you use your separate property to invest and upgrade a rental home that you purchased together. In that case, the money will likely be determined to be community property at that stage. You are essentially gifting that money to your marriage. These are general overviews of the law on community and separate property. You need to hire an attorney to explain how your specific circumstances will likely play out in a future or current divorce case.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Life isn’t fair. You may not find that phrase more accurate in any setting more than in your divorce case. I want to spend some time at the beginning of tomorrow’s blog post delving a little deeper into this subject with you all.

If you have any questions about what we’ve discussed today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultation with a licensed family law attorney six days a week, where we can answer your questions in a comfortable and pressure-free environment.

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