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The details on community property division in Texas

When it comes to getting a divorce in Texas being able to determine how to divide your community property and debt is probably one of the most time-consuming and stressful aspects of the entire case. When I talk about dividing up your community property, I'm referring to how marital property is classified, what its value is, and who gets what in terms of the property and debt. When it comes to being able to work on these subjects with your spouse there is a certain mindset that comes along with it. Namely, that there is no way that you and your spouse will be able to agree on anything. Many people in a divorce scenario like yours believe that only a family court judge can determine how their property will be divided.

Being able to share information with your Co-parent and spouse throughout this process is an important part of this determination. When it comes to getting a divorce a lot of what you all will need to do in terms of the property is to be able to determine who owns what and when did you come to own it. Whether it be through the discovery process in a case or through simple exchanges of information you and your spouse will need to be able to cooperate in civilly exchanging information. The failure to do so can delay your case and lead to a rather unpleasant outcome in your divorce.

That unpleasant outcome oftentimes has to do with going before a family court judge who will decide on who gets what property out of your marriage. This is a worst-case scenario to be sure. A family court judge will strictly apply the rules and laws associated with Community property when it comes to your divorce. Instead of you and your spouse having the primary say so on how property is divided the judge will play a prominent role in doing so. Nobody knows your circumstances as well as you and your spouse's food. As a result, do not expect a family court judge to be able to make a well-informed decision as the two of you would be able to. This is true even if you and your spouse are not seeing eye to eye very much right now.

When you consider how property will be devoted in your case it is not uncommon to have some fear or even anxiety about the process. Many people are kept in the dark about their finances either completely by the design of their spouse or by a lack of interest. You may be one of those persons who simply does not take any interest in the finances of your family. As a result, your spouse may understand the ins and outs of the family finances while you understand very little.

Or, you may know a great deal about your family's finances, but your spouse may have been hiding from certain aspects of their financial life for any reason under the sun. As a result, your spouse may be hiding either debt or property from you that otherwise would need to be divided in the divorce. In this type of situation, you need to be equipped to negotiate the subject with your spouse. It is not always easy to walk through difficult subject matter like this with your spouse during a difficult divorce. However, that is the circumstance that you find yourself in.

The benefit to having an experienced family law attorney by your side throughout this process is that an attorney knows not only the laws regarding Community property but also understands the responsibilities of a family court judge when it comes to dividing up property in your specific case. An attorney will help you to be able to gather information, request information from your Co-parent, prepare for hearings and trial and most importantly prepare for mediation. Having someone by your side who has gone through divorce cases in the past is incredibly important. It is difficult to prepare for something that you have never done before. Imagine climbing a mountain in all the preparation that would take. If you have never gone up to high altitude or stayed overnight in an unforgiving environment, then you probably would seek out help. A divorce is much the same way. Do not go into a divorce case unprepared or without assistance.

The attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan standby ready to assist you in whatever circumstances you are facing regarding a divorce. We walk with an advocate for people across our community who are facing difficult divorce circumstances. We stand ready to do the same for you as well. With that said, why not contact our office today for a free-of-charge consultation? One of these consultations can be obtained over the phone, in person, or even via video.

Making decisions just to get the case over with 

One of the understandable complaints that I hear from almost every person who goes through a divorce is that the process takes too long. Even if your divorce isn't all that long relative to most people the process is not fun and can feel like it is taking forever. As a result, it is completely understandable to want to do whatever it takes to get the process done and over with. In doing so you may agree to a division of Community property that is not exactly to your advantage or even fair. So much is the desire to complete the case and move on with your life.

This would be something that I would advise against doing. It can be tempting to want to do whatever it takes to speed the process up and be done with the divorce. Certainly, the rest of your life is waiting in the wings while you attend to your divorce. However, remember that in a divorce situation like yours the decisions that you make when it comes to dividing up Community property can greatly impact the trajectory of your life moving forward. As a result, it is extremely short-sighted to make decisions about your divorce case without properly considering their long-term impact on your life.

Keep in mind that when the property division is all set and done in your case then there is no going back. I know a lot of people assume that there is always a way to go back and change what occurs in a divorce through the mediation process. While this may be true in some situations involving your case it is untrue when it comes to the division of Community property. What matters in Community property division is determining what belongs in your community estate and what belongs in your separate estate and then dividing that up in a way that is fair based on the circumstances of your case. 

Bear in mind that property can quickly be sold, encumbered, or traded if it is a stock or other investment. Therefore, a family court judge cannot readily undo what has already been done in your case if it is not to your liking. For that reason, it pays to get this subject right the first time. If you fail to do so, then there is no telling the consequences of your actions and what they could mean to the rest of your life. As a result, if you have never negotiated a divorce settlement on Community property then I would not want to have your divorce be the first period even simply reading blog posts like this one cannot necessarily prepare you for what you will be encountering in your case.

What are the basic steps to divide property and deaths in a Texas divorce?

As we have discussed, the main issue that you will be facing in your divorce case is how to determine what belongs in your community estate and what does not. Think of your divorce as a matter of dividing all the property owned between you and your spouse into three columns: Community property, your separate estate in the separatist state of your spouse. These are the most basic yet critical questions that you will answer you’re in your entire divorce case. Being able to determine what property is out there and who it belongs to can make or break your divorce from a property settlement perspective.

The less familiar you are with the property that you own the more likely it is that you will need assistance when it comes to dividing it all. Many people who go through a divorce are considering the property that they own for the first time. This is a huge disadvantage in that your ability to locate, appraise and then determine the character of the property is likely not as strong as your spouse’s ability to do so. As a result, you may need to refresh your memory or even request information about intangible assets like bank accounts or retirement accounts. This can all be done within the context of a divorce, but it is not easy. More reason for you to be interested in hiring an experienced family law attorney to guide you throughout this process.

First and foremost, you need to determine what column your property should properly fall into. Did you own the property before your divorce or did your spouse? Was the property purchased during your marriage? These are some basic questions for you to be able to answer that will directly tell you whether the property in question may be divisible in your divorce. If the property is purchased during your marriage, then it is probably subject to division. However, if you own the property before your marriage or if your spouse did then the process of dividing the property, we don't include those assets.

Remember, the same analysis needs to be performed on your debts. Many people skip over debt division when they're doing a mental analysis of their case before it begins. For some reason, debts just tend to be overlooked throughout the process. While it is understandable to not want to focus on these portions of your case it would be irresponsible for you to do so completely. Rather, you must determine what are your debts like a mortgage, student loans, business debt, and credit card debt are eligible to be divided in the case. If they are then you need to work with your attorney to determine the most equitable way of doing so. Yes, it is it could be that certain debts you accumulated are specific to your business and therefore need to go with you after your divorce. Or the exact opposite could be true, and your spouse needs to take the debt with him or her after your divorce. 

Of course, another relevant situation may be one where your spouse is your identity to take on debts that you were completely unaware of. This is the true danger associated with debts in a divorce. Namely, you may be unaware of the debt during the pendency of your divorce only to find out that months later your spouse took out the debt in your name without your knowledge. In a situation like this, it is virtually impossible to think about a family court judge reopening the divorce to consider these debts. As a result, you need to be sure that you have uncovered these debts to the greatest degree possible. A good way to do so is to go through your credit report and credit history to make sure that you recognize every debt that is listed. If you do not, then you should seriously consider either contesting the debt through the credit Bureau or contacting your spouse to inquire with him or her about the nature of the debt and whether he or she is aware of it.

In the next step in the process, those two consider the value of the assets in question. This would be known as an appraisal of these assets. Once you have determined where pieces of property should go in the divorce as far as community or separate property you can determine their value. This can be an educated guess just to give yourself some working numbers to go with. Many times, assets can be quite complicated to divide. In other situations, you can simply go online to help you determine the value of pieces of property. Things like retirement accounts or even checking accounts have values that are straightforward and listed on each account.

For more expensive assets like a home, you and your spouse may need to agree on the method by which you all will estimate the value of the property. Along with determining the method for the sale of a home and all the details associated with doing so this can be some of the most complicated parts of a case.

The final question that you and your spouse will need to answer is regarding dividing up the property. To answer this question, you will need to consider what the Community property laws say, what is specific circumstances are as well as what other ones it needs you and your spouse to have. Factors like your ages, educational levels, income levels, and work experience will all factor into decisions about how to divide up Community property. First bouses who do not work full time the Community property division takes on added importance as it can be the main way that they sustain themselves in the time immediately following the divorce. 

Your age will make a difference in this process, as well. If you are an older person who is getting a divorce, then you may be especially attached to your retirement account. The amount of that retirement account that falls in the Community property category can impact your divorce and significant amount. You will need to be able to negotiate well if you want to retain your retirement savings as much as possible while being able to get back on your feet financially after a divorce. 

On the other hand, if you are a younger person, you probably have less in the way of retirement savings and overall, less at stake in the divorce from a financial perspective. However, your short-term economic outlook may be more stressful if you have a home with your spouse and can only afford to pay the mortgage with both of your incomes. In that case, deciding to sell the home and find temporary housing after the divorce is probably something for you to consider. Add on to that analysis having a child or two and you have a situation that can spiral out of control unless you have someone to help guide and advise you. 

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please don't 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 case.

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