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Reimbursement of the Community Estate: Continuing the Discussion on Divorce

Dividing community property and debt, grounds for divorce and residency requirements in Texas have all been hashed over thus far in our discussion on getting a divorce in the Lone Star State. Today we will keep the theme of community property going by discussing some specific instances where the distinction between community and separate property come into play.

When the need arises to reimburse the community estate

If we were to jump in a miniature plan and fly above your divorce we would see that there are three different property distinctions in play:

  1. your separate estate
  2. your spouse’s separate estate and
  3. the community estate.

Depending on how you and your spouse spent income and resources during the course of your marriage each of those estates may have a valid claim for reimbursement against the others.

A pretty straightforward example that I can provide to you is to consider that sweet little car that is sitting in your driveway as you read this. Now, that vehicle may have been purchased a couple years before you became married which means that it is going to be considered part of your separate estate.

However, the money that you used to pay that vehicle off would have likely come from the community estate. Technically, the community estate (by way of your spouse and their attorney) can assert that the money used to pay off that vehicle needs to be paid back to him or her.

Will this type of nitty-gritty negotiation occur in your divorce? I would have to say that it is unlikely- although depending upon the nature of the divorce and the level of the property involved it certainly is possible. What’s more, since this reimbursement concept is not something that comes from the statutory law but is more or less a fairness decision for a judge to make there is no guarantee that a court would even listen to your spouse if he or she were to present this argument.

On top of that- it will likely cost whichever spouse intends to make a reimbursement argument time and money to do so. You will have to go back and track every dollar that you are attempting to prove needs to be reimbursed. Depending on the source of the funds an accountant may need to be hired to review complicated financial paperwork in order to do this complicated work for you.

Tracing as a means to help a reimbursement argument

The concept of tracing is one that hugs the concept of reimbursement pretty tightly. You or your spouse would use tracing to look for the source of income used to pay a debt, pay towards a piece of property or to do anything else in your marriage.

In general, tracing is done to determine if the property in question is either part of the community estate or part of either spouse’s separate estates. Your bank account may actually have money that represents both the community estate and one of your separate estates. What can do you do in this situation?

If you are a super organized, type A person then those traits may help you out. You and your attorney or an expert witness hired by your attorney would need to review financial records as well as bank statements to determine where the source of the funds in your account came from. If it’s impossible to determine and a judge cannot do so either it will be presumed that all funds in the account are community property.

Dividing up your community estate

Whether it is by judicial decision or settlement between yourself and your spouse, your property and debts will be divided as a result of your divorce. In the event that you and your spouse settle your divorce case a division of these entities can be extremely creative and can take on many different forms.

On the other hand, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on how to divide up your debts and property the judge will step in and make a decision for you. From my experience, the decision will likely leave you and your spouse somewhat unhappy in that the judge is ill-equipped to understand the minute details of your case as well as you and your spouse.

A division by a judge most likely would result in each of you keeping your separate property (whatever that is) and then determining what is a fair (just and right) division of your community estate looks like. If you were to ask me what that looks like I would likely tell you that a division would be fairly straight down the middle absent any extreme circumstances like abuse in the marriage or infidelity.

Debts may weigh heavily on the judge so if your community estate is populated by considerable debts then do not expect to walk out of your divorce with assets that are worth a considerable amount of money.

If your house has a mortgage on it, your vehicles have liens and there is not much money in the bank then the judge will have to make a determination how to divide that between you and your spouse in a manner that is equitable. If you are going to be primarily responsible for young children it could be that the judge will not place a heavy financial burden on you moving forward though we cannot be sure of that.

The ever-popular topics of spousal support and children will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog post

If you have children and/or expect to receive or pay spousal support then tomorrow’s blog post will be an interesting one for you to read. In the meantime, if you have questions about anything you’ve read today 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 meet with you to answer questions and discuss the services our office can provide you with as a client.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. How you can be reimbursed for past purchases during your Texas Divorce
  2. The division of military benefits in a Texas Divorce
  3. Military Divorces: Essential knowledge for Texas residents
  4. The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
  5. Military Divorces in Texas
  6. Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
  7. Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
  8. How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
  9. Texas Divorce - Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
  10. Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
  11. Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
  12. How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston Texas Military Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Houston Texas military Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A military divorce lawyer in Houston TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact 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 Military Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.


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