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Understanding community property division in a Texas divorce

Texas residents who are seeking a divorce may be interested in some general information on community property and how it is divided. Depending on the circumstances, some property may not be divided equally between the ex-spouses.

Under Texas family law, all property owned by a couple when they divorce is presumed to be community property. Ownership of community property, along with any community debts, is shared by the divorcing couple equally. In order to show that property is separately-owned and thus not subject to community property division, one of three things must be proven. The property must have been acquired either before the marriage, through an inheritance or other gift, or through the use of other separate property. Additionally, personal injury lawsuit awards may qualify as separate property under Texas law.

Another important issue regarding separate property is when it is used to pay for community property or vice versa. Sometimes these payments may be reimbursed at the time of divorce from either the separate or community property, as appropriate. These issues may be governed by a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. The agreement can change the default split of community property or make other accommodations at the request of the spouses. Without such an agreement, a court will divide the couple's community property as it thinks is just. This is often an unequal division, depending on many factors. For instance, some pieces of property, such as a home, are difficult to divide equally without selling them and dividing the proceeds.

Understanding the issues in a complex family law case can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. The attorney can guide a client through the entire process and provide representation in settlement negotiations or in court.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook", October 11, 2014

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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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