Divorce cases come in every shape and size as far as the items that are ultimately divided up when it comes to personal property. Almost every single one of us owns one item or another that we consider to be valuable. The item could be valuable due to it having some inherent value. Simply expensive items that you own may need to be divided up in the divorce in some form or fashion. In that case, you should be concerned with how the law in Texas treats Community property and what property or assets that you own may be subject to division.
On the other hand, you may also own family heirlooms, and other items that are not valuable from a pure dollars and cents perspective may be valuable to your family and you specifically. Every family has a few of these items that someone owns and would like to pass on to further generations. While it is not incredibly likely that your spouse would want your grandfather’s Bible or your grandmother’s diary that she brought over on a boat from Europe, you should still be aware of how this type of property is treated in a Texas divorce and what you should do to prepare for this stage in your case.
Otherwise, you cannot, in every instance, guess with 100% accuracy how property will be divided between you and your spouse. While it is likely that property in your case, we’ll be divided more so by you and your spouse in settlement negotiation than by a family court judge understanding the basics of Community property in Texas and the laws regarding its division will be important. Finally, learning a little bit more about the motivations of your Co-parent and how he or she may perceive the property that you all own is also critical to being a well-versed participant in the divorce that you are about to go through.
another important part of this discussion is simply learning how best to inventory and appraise a property that you own. Likely, one of the first things you will be asked to do at the beginning of a Texas family law case is to locate all property that you own and estimate its value. While there are many ways to do this, I am going to share with you the advice that I provide our clients in terms of how to begin this processing period from there, you can apply the information against the specific circumstances of your case to determine the most efficient and effective way to do so. Remember that these specific circumstances of your case are extremely important in this regard and that the information contained in this blog is only to be used for informational purposes.
At the end of today’s discussion if you have questions about how your case may be impacted by the Texas laws on Community property and its distribution then you should reach out to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
The basics of Texas Community property law
For starters, if you are interested in getting into a deep dive on Texas Community property law and I would recommend that you search for different blog posts here on the website for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We have written dozens of blog posts that will walk you through specific information regarding Texas property law. Community property is a subject that can look at times extremely simple but almost always turns out to be complex considering the specific circumstances of your case. Do not assume that because he understood everything in this blog post you have all the information that you need to proceed with your case. Rather, you should take the time to seek out different perspectives from attorneys who have been there and done that for clients just like you. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would be happy to help in this regard.
Simply put, Community property refers to the legal theory of how property in Texas is divided between 2 spouses upon the death of one or the divorce of the couple. Different states in our country have different legal theories about how to divide the property into these types of circumstances. Even those states which are known as Community property states have different methods of evaluating, classifying, and then dividing property. For example, Texas and California are both Community property states but have different laws on how property is divided between spouses and divorce cases.
The basic motivation behind Community property laws in Texas is for property to be divided in ways that are more equitable when compared to non-Community property states. To that extent, all property at the time of your divorce will be presumed to be Community property. This means that all property is subject to division. However, this presumption can be rebutted with appropriate evidence. If you owned a piece of personal property from your childhood then it is very unlikely that your spouse would attempt to argue that your prized baseball Mitt from childhood or another artifact of your youth should be divided in the divorce.
Both you and your spouse will be tasked with making arguments regarding various types of property belonging either in your community or separate estates. You and your spouse will be allowed to negotiate with one another on the division of this property throughout your case. This is the reason why I am telling you that you and your spouse will likely play a much more important role when it comes to how your property is divided than a family court judge will. The family court judge will likely only make decisions in your case regarding property division if you and your spouse are unable to do so.
An important aspect of Community property division in Texas that you may be unaware of is that property that is a community in nature would be subject to division even if you or your spouse had no role in its purchase. For instance, let’s suppose that you are a stay-at-home parent who has never worked outside the home. Your natural assumption may be that because you have never contributed any income to your household that you have no right to any of the property that you own. Many spouses are dissuaded from even putting up a fight when it comes to this kind of property because of a mistaken belief like this. However, this is not true at all. new paragraph even if you have never worked outside the home a day in your life who have just as much a right to any Community property that is classified in your case as your spouse. It doesn’t matter if you were a homemaker, and your spouse was a doctor. The same rules apply. This is the benefit of living in a community property state especially if you are a spouse who has cared for the home or otherwise not worked outside the house.
How a judge may divide property
If a judge is tasked with dividing up your personal property you should be aware of how the property may be divided. A just and right division of property is the standard that a family court judge utilizes to divide up your personal property. For many people, this may mean a 50/50 split in the property. For others, it could mean something different entirely. Do not assume that no matter any other factors a judge will divide your property up evenly between you and your spouse. This may not be justified for several reasons.
Consideration will be given to your separate estates when dividing community property. If your separate estate is small and your spouse is large, then you may be given a preference when it comes to how property will be divided. If you are awarded a larger than 50% share of your community estate, then this is known as a disproportionate share. If any of your pricey personal items are part of your separate estate rather than your community estate, then that will have an impact on how property is divided in your community estate.
Another way that the amount of separate property that you own will impact a judge’s determination when it comes to Community property is whether the items can be readily sold To help you recover from the divorce from a financial standpoint. In many cases, people in your position will struggle as far as being able to provide for themselves financially after a divorce. If nothing else, your household budget will likely go from 2 incomes to one. Being able to adjust to this new setup circumstances can take time. Having the option to sell personal property awarded to you in the divorce is a great benefit.
The judge can also take into the educational levels of you and your spouse when determining how to divide Community property. Typically speaking the spouse who has a greater level of education would have greater prospects for employment in the future. If your spouse has more education than you do, then you may be in line for a disproportionate share of your community estate. This does not have to be the case but may end up being that way.
Any work that you did to allow your spouse to gain an education and a well-paying career will also be relevant to how Community property is divided. I am picturing a situation where you may have worked to put your spouse through school and then climb the corporate ladder. The work that you did outside the home as well as the work that you performed within the home matter a great deal in terms of factors to consider when dividing property. Do not discount this fact when it comes to figuring out how Community property will be divided.
Your age and level of health are two more factors that a judge would consider when deciding how to divide Community property. The poorer your health is and the older you are the more likely you would be to receive a disproportionate share of your community estate. This does not necessarily mean that these are the most important factors, but judges can be persuaded to award property disproportionately if you seem to be in major need of resources after your divorce. From a vocational and employment standpoint the older you are the less transferable the skills you possess would be and the more likely you would be two have a shorter time where you can work.
These are some of the most important factors that a family court judge can utilize when determining how to divide up Community property. However, these are not the only factors that a family court judge can live to. Additionally, the judge would Be able to utilize their own experience and knowledge in these types of cases to make decisions. To be guided in the most assured way possible when it comes to how Community property could be divided in your case you should speak with an experienced family law attorney first period from there, you can learn more about how property is divided in divorce cases as well as how your specific circumstances will impact the decision made by a family court judge.
Beginning to inventory your personal property
When it comes to determining how to begin the process of organizing yourself from a personal property standpoint, it is important to take small steps initially. Depending upon the size of your estate there is no way that you can complete this task in a single day. Rather, it is something that you should work on overtime and begin to think about intentionally sooner rather than later. For instance, if you have not yet begun your divorce now is a perfect time to begin taking an assessment of the property that you own Get ahead of the game for when your divorce case begins.
Something simple that you can do would be to walk through your home and take photographs of every room in the house. You can document the personal property that you own, desk drawers, closets, and everything in between. Items in a divorce tend to become lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, this would never happen to you, but it is also possible that the property you own may be taken or otherwise moved by your spouse. In this type of situation, it is best to have documentary proof that a certain piece of property was located at a specific place in your home.
Once you have begun to document the property in your home you can expand your search to storage units, your office, vehicles, the garage, and any other place where you have property. No matter if the property is going to belong to you, your spouse, or your community estate you should document it. Understanding the separate property owned by your spouse may inform you better as to how he or she will negotiate on the property in your community estate. It will also influence how you negotiate on Community property and can determine how the community estate is considered by both of you.
next, you can take the property owned by you and your spouse and begin to estimate the value of each of these items. Especially when it comes to expensive personal items you will likely need to get these items professionally appraised. Any documentation that you have as to the value of the property should be provided to your attorney so that he or she can bring it to the attention of your spouse during negotiations. If there is a disagreement on the value of a particular piece of property, then your spouse may need to bring in an expert to classify and estimate the value of the property.
Either way, you have some work in front of you when it comes to being able to estimate the value of certain pieces of property. There is no question that certain items may be more than others. Additionally, you may own certain pieces of property that are sentimentally invaluable in a way that does not involve money. In a case where you have a property that needs to be divided, it is best to work with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about the process and to be able to develop a strategy on how to proceed with the property division parts of your divorce.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog posts? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog posts, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.