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Texas Millennials more likely to buy home before marriage

A recent USA Today article finds most Millennials are not following the old "first comes love, then comes marriage" adage. Instead, a growing number of those between the age of 18 and 24 are purchasing a house prior to tying the knot. Although the current housing market provides many opportunities for a great deal, owning such a valuable asset before getting married can lead to problems if the marriage were to fail.

It may seem pessimistic, but there are many reasons to enter a marriage with divorce on the mind. Two of the most pressing reasons involve the average divorce rate and the average age of marriage. The divorce rate around the country continues to hover around 50 percent, with almost one in two marriages ending in divorce. Second, with the average age for marriage around 28 for men and almost 27 for women, couples are entering marriage with more assets, and more debts. As a result, if the marriage were to fail couples have a lot more to lose.

Importance of discussing assets prior to marriage and how assets are treated in Texas marriages

Being aware of what type of assets each person brings to a marriage and how property is treated in Texas can help couples to prepare wisely before entering a marriage. Having these conversations may even help build a stronger bond, reducing the risk of financial surprises during the marriage.

Texas is a community property state, meaning that courts classify property in two ways when making property division determinations:

  • Separate property
  • Community property

Separate property is the property owned by a person prior to marriage and, in most cases, any inheritances or gifts given specifically to one spouse during the marriage. Separate property is not divided during a divorce proceeding, but instead always remains the property of the owning spouse. In order to keep separate property, the owning spouse must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the property is separate property.

Generally, everything else is classified as community property. This includes bank accounts, stocks, vehicles, retirement savings, real estate and life insurance policies as well as furniture and artwork. This property is divided between the two spouses if the marriage were to end in divorce. The court distributes the property as it deems "just and right." This means the division may not be an equal 50/50 split. Instead the court can take various factors into consideration when making its determination, including whether one spouse was at fault for the failure of the marriage, the health of each spouse, education and whether one party put a career on hold to raise children.

Treatment of a home owned prior to marriage in Texas

It is important to avoid commingling of assets if a spouse enters a marriage already owning a home or other valuable asset and wishes to keep it as separate property. Commingling property refers to mixing separate property, like the home, with community property. Such mixing could occur if mortgage payments are withdrawn from a joint account. The non-owning spouse may argue that he or she helped pay for the home. As a result, the non-owning spouse may successfully claim that the home is community property.

Navigating through these issues and gathering evidence to establish which pieces of property are separate and community can be difficult. If you are going through a divorce, it is wise to contact an experienced Texas property division attorney to help ensure a settlement is in your best interest.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Office Locations

Turner, Bruce E.
1603 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway Suite 280
Dallas, TX 75234

Phone: 800-486-9553
Fax: 214-373-2570
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Bruce Turner with Bennett, Weston LaJone & Turner, P.C.

Attorney Bruce Turner is located in Dallas and represents people and businesses throughout DFW and the Metroplex, including Denton, Carrollton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Farmers Branch, Irving, Las Colinas, Corinth, Highland Village, The Colony, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Garland and Grapevine as well as Collin County, Denton County and Dallas County in Texas.

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