Property Division in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reports that more than 75,000 couples file for divoce in the state every year. It is far from rare-but that does not make a divorce any less complicated for the people who are actually going through it. Property division is often one of the most contentious, logistically difficult issues in a divorce case.
At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we have extensive experience helping people navigate property and debt distribution in divorce in Southeast Texas. Our team wants to make sure everyone has the resources they need to protect themselves. Here, our Houston divorce attorney answers 10 of the most frequently asked questions about property division in Texas.1. What Does Property Division Mean in a Divorce Case?
Married couples inevitably intertwine their finances and their assets. Property division is effectively the party of a divorce case during which the parties will need to determine who gets to keep what. In Texas, a divorce cannot be finalized all material issues-including issues related to property division-have been fully resolved.2. What is the Difference Between Separate Property and Marital Property?
In Texas, a married couple’s property can be divided into two broad categories. The first is separate property. Separate property covers assets and possessions that are owned entirely by one spouse. For example, a gift that someone got before they were married could qualify as separate property in Texas. The other category is marital property. The term marital property covers all of the assets and possessions that are jointly owned by both spouses.3. How is Property Divided in Texas?
When it comes to the issue of property division, Texas is one of the minority of U.S. states-nine in total-that uses the community property standard. As explained simply by the Texas State Law Library, community property is a legal doctrine that holds that “any property acquired by a couple during their marriage (with a few exceptions) is equally owned by both spouses.” Whereas each spouse retains full ownership of their separate property, all of their marital property is considered to be jointly (50/50) owned in Texas.4. Does Community Property Always Mean a 50/50 Split of the Marital Assets?
Technically, no. In Texas, both spouses have equal ownership of their common property (marital property). If they file for a divorce, there is a presumption that all community property should be divided in an even manner. However, a 50/50 split of the community property is not guaranteed by Texas state law. If the divorce does end up in litigation, a Texas judge could decide to award an uneven division of assets if deemed appropriate. Still, a 50/50 split of the marital property is the presumption in Texas.5. Could a Prenuptial Agreement Impact Property Division?
Yes. The Texas Uniform Premarital Agreement Act is a state statute that governs prenups. Assuming a prenuptial agreement is valid under the law it can be upheld and enforced in Texas. Most often, prenups serve to keep certain property and assets as separate property. Though, the specific terms of the prenup always matter. If a prenup is an issue in your divorce case, an experienced Houston, TX property division lawyer can help to protect your rights and interests.6. What Types of Assets are Difficult to Divide in a Divorce?
Dividing the proceeds in a joint checking account might not be very difficult. Each party can take their agreed up share. However, there are many other assets which are far more difficult to divide. Some notable examples of complex assets that can cause issues during the property division process in a Texas divorce case include:
- Motor vehicles;
- The family home;
- Real estate investments;
- Retirement accounts;
- Business interests.
- Family heirlooms; and
- Other items with strong sentimental value.
It depends on the specific circumstances. With some limited exceptions, the house of primary residence will typically be marital property (community property) in Texas. The divorcing couple will need to determine if someone is going to remain the house going forward or if it will need to be sold so that the proceeds can be divided. A Houston, TX property division attorney can help you find the best solution for your house in your divorce.8. Is Debt Divided in a Divorce in Texas?
Yes. As part of the property division process, a couple’s debts will also need to be divided. The general legal standard in Texas is the same. There are both separate debts and marital debts. Debt can fall under the Texas community property standard-meaning it can be a joint liability in Texas.9. Can You Settle Property Division Outside of Court?
Yes. In fact, the vast majority of divorce cases-including property division matters-are resolved out-of-court in Texas. When you can reach one, a property division settlement can be an efficient and cost effective way to handle these issues. A Houston divorce lawyer can help you find the right solution. Of course, divorce litigation is always possible-so it is important to have a lawyer who is prepared for court.10. How Do You Find the Right Property Division Lawyer?
You need a family law attorney who has the legal experience, professional skills, and financial knowledge to help you navigate complex issues of property division and debt division. As a dedicated family law attorney with a commitment to personal service, Houston divorce lawyer Rahlita D. Thornton helps clients navigate property division issues in Southeast Texas.Contact Our Texas Property Division Attorney Today
At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, our Houston property division lawyer provides solutions-driven legal guidance focused on protecting your best interests. If you have any questions about property division in a divorce, we can help. Give us a call at (713) 401-3998 or send us a message online to schedule an initial appointment with a family lawyer. From our office in Houston, we handle divorce and property division issues in Houston, Sugarland, Stafford, Conroe, The Woodlands, West University, Harris County, Fort Bend County, Wharton County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, Chambers County, and throughout Southeastern Texas.