During a divorce, many couples are surprised at how difficult it can be to divide not only high-valued assets, such as homes and vehicles, but everyday items, bank accounts, retirement accounts and debts. Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices, a Dallas, Texas, family law firm, offers personalized legal advice and aggressive advocacy to individuals who are facing property division issues during a divorce.
Texas Community Property Laws
Texas is a community property state, which means that any assets accumulated during a marriage are the equal property of both spouses and subject to equal division if the couple divorces. Any property that was owned prior to the marriage, or which was received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance, is separate property that belongs to that spouse alone.
During a divorce, the court presumes that all property owned by either spouse is community property. When a couple commingles their separate property with community property, accurately characterizing assets can become difficult. Paula Lock Smyth works closely with her clients to identify separate property and to help them gather the necessary documentation to prove that those assets are not community property.
After all community property has been identified and the assets have been valued, the court divides all community property and liabilities between the parties in a manner that is “just and right,” taking both child support and spousal maintenance into account. This division may be an equal 50-50 split of community property, but it does not need to be. The court may award one spouse more property under certain circumstances such as substantiated fault-based grounds for the divorce.