Understanding the way property is divided is very important in a divorce. This is often the most disputed issue in a divorce, after child custody.
Every state in the nation has a law about how to divide the couple’s property during a divorce. In most states, the law follows a standard known as equitable division, meaning that the division must meet guidelines of fairness. However, Texas follows a different standard known as community property when overseeing asset division in a divorce.
Community property is a type of joint ownership. Assets purchased by the married couple are combined with assets that were earned by the couple during their marriage. The husband and wife own them equally and all debts are incurred equally. This is true regardless of who has the title in the assets. This is in contrast with equitable division states, where couples can show the contributions they made to the marriage and property.
Generally, each spouse in Texas gets an equal share of community property and also incurs the marital debt equally. However, this does not mean that everything is always split 50-50. While some types of assets, such as a joint checking account, may be relatively easy to split in half, others are not. Complex assets, such as retirement plans, stock options and ownership stakes in a business, can be very difficult to divide fairly.
Another important fact to note about property division is that the law gives the court some discretion in how the property will be divided. Courts are instructed to order a division of property in a manner that the court considers fair and just. Therefore, when deciding on property division, courts can consider the needs of the parties and any children they may have.
Because there is no one easy formula that works for every divorce, it is important to have the help of a skilled attorney when dividing community property. A qualified lawyer can protect a client’s rights in a divorce, helping them to start off on a stronger financial footing as they begin the next stage in their lives.