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Texas property division in divorces

People who are getting divorced in Texas probably know that Texas is community property state, but they may not be certain exactly what that means. In community property states, all property that is owned on the date of dissolution, as well as all financial obligations that have been taken on during the marriage, is presumed to be owned by both the husband and the wife. However, this is not nearly as straightforward as it may initially sound, and during the property division phase of a divorce the court will not always divide the community property equally.

In general, community property generally includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, except for inheritances, gifts to one spouse but not the other and personal injury awards to one spouse. Separate property includes all property separately owned by one party prior to the marriage.

Contributions made by one spouse to increase the value of separate property may give right to a claim for reimbursement. Commingling separate property with community property may make the separate property lose its exclusion. For example, if funds from an inheritance are deposited into a joint account during the marriage to benefit both, the inheritance may be deemed community property due to the commingling. In the event the couple entered into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement regarding property division, courts may take these provisions into account.

Many factors can enter into a property division determination in a complex family law case. Rather than being straightforward, property division is one of the most hotly disputed parts of many divorces. In high-asset cases, there may be multiple accounts, stocks, investments, business interests, significant real estate holdings and a large degree of commingling. There may be a prenuptial agreement that one spouse alleges he or she was coerced into signing. In many cases, people may benefit by seeking the help of a family law attorney.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook", accessed on Feb. 4, 2015

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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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