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In a Texas Divorce, Who Gets the House?

Divorce is never easy, especially when you're splitting up assets like real estate or cars. There are several types of property in Texas, and figuring out which one belongs to whom is complicated.

The law says that spouses must divide property equally unless one spouse committed fraud against the other. However, the way that property is divided depends upon where you live. In some states, like Texas, a couple can decide to keep certain items together, such as furniture, appliances, vehicles, etc., even though they both contributed to those purchases.

After a divorce, you'll want to make sure that you've got everything figured out before you file for legal separation. If you haven't done so already, it's important to hire a family attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, to represent you throughout your case. Contact us today at Thorntonesquirelawgroup for a free consultation.

How is Property Divided in a Divorce in Texas? Understanding "Separate Property" in a Divorce.

In Texas, you have three options for dividing up assets acquired during a marriage. You can divide everything equally, keep everything separate, or use a combination of both methods. If you choose to use a combination approach, you must decide what percentage each party owns. This decision affects how much money each person gets.

The most common type of asset in a divorce case is real estate. In some cases, the court will consider whether an item is a separate property or marital property. When determining whether something belongs to one spouse or another, the court looks at where the funds came from, who owned the property prior to the marriage, and who maintained ownership throughout the relationship.

If you inherit the land, for instance, you might think that you automatically own half of it. However, this isn't necessarily true. Many states recognize that certain items are separate property, such as cash gifts received before the marriage and even income earned outside of the marriage.

You might also want to look into prenuptial agreements. A prenup is a contract signed before a couple marries that lays out expectations about how the parties will handle financial issues that arise later in life. These contracts are typically drafted by lawyers and can provide protection against claims of fraud, embezzlement, or theft.

Marital property in a Texas divorce

Generally speaking, anything that is not separated property in a Texas divorce — such as a car, house, or retirement plan — is called "marital property." This includes things like cars, houses, pensions, stocks, bonds, 401(k) plans, and even live insurance policies. In short, everything you earn during your marriage is considered marital property.

Going back to our previous examples, that means that the wife's inheritance is now considered marital property because it became commingled with the couple's joint checking account. And since the money came out of one spouse's pocket, it's no longer considered separate property.

Determine Which Assets are Community Property.

Community Property is a term used in many states to describe everything that belongs to both spouses during the marriage. This includes money earned during the marriage, as well as money inherited or received as gifts. Anything acquired during the marriage is considered community property, including stocks, bonds, real estate, cars, boats, airplanes, jewelry, antiques, art, furniture, clothing, appliances, tools, equipment, computers, electronic devices, medical records, insurance policies, and pensions.

The court must divide all community property equally between the spouses unless it finds one spouse acted fraudulently or committed adultery. In some cases, the court may decide to award one spouse a greater percentage of the community property because of his or her role in creating the wealth.

What is a Community Property State?

In the United States, there are two main ways to divide property in a divorce. One way, called equitable distribution, gives one party more ownership over certain items because he or she contributed more money to the marriage. For example, if you paid $300 toward a down payment while your husband paid $1,500, you might end up owning the house.

The other option is known as community property. This system treats everything owned by either partner equally, regardless of whose name appears on the deed. If you bought a car together, you both own half of it.

How is Community Property Divided in Texas?

In Texas, there are three types of property: Separate Property, Community Property, and Joint Property. When married couples file for divorce, they must decide how each type of property will be distributed. If you're filing for divorce in Texas, here's what you need to know about the different types of property and how they'll be divided.

In Texas, everything you own — including your home, bank accounts, cars, furniture, and even retirement funds — becomes community property once you marry. This includes money earned prior to the marriage, gifts received during the marriage or inherited money.

Texas law requires a court to divide whatever is left over equally. But what happens if one person earns more than the other? Or if one spouse receives a large inheritance? If there is a significant disparity in income, the court can order an unequal distribution of the remaining assets.

So, Who Usually Gets the House in a Divorce?

Technically, both parties get 50 percent of the equity in the home. In most cases, however, one party pays off the mortgage while the other owns the property. But what happens when there are debts associated with the purchase of the home? For example, a couple purchases a $200,000 home. They put 20 percent down ($40,000) and finance the rest with a 30-year fixed loan. At the end of the 30 years, the couple owes $160,000. Who ends up with the house?

The answer depends on where the home is located and whether the state recognizes common law marriages. Under common law, the spouse who paid for the house could claim ownership because he or she contributed financially toward the purchase. A court in Texas, however, does not recognize common law marriages. Therefore, the person who puts down the majority of the cash for the house generally gets the house.

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Selecting an attorney can be one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make. In what seems like an overwhelming sea of attorneys who do you choose? Are they qualified, compassionate, and are they willing to fight for you without compromising their integrity? When faced with this decision in 2016 I received this and more when I retained Rahlita Thornton as my attorney. Since 2016 she has represented me on several court cases and I've never been disappointed. She is well versed and very knowledgeable on many aspects of the law. Attorney Thornton and her staff work diligently to ensure no stone is left unturned and justice is served. When I was crippled with fear, bullied, and felt like giving up she was my voice. She is highly recommend and I'm truly blessed to have her in my life. TTW
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