Briner Family Law Group

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Is Texas a Community Property State?

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2022 | Divorce, Family Law

Property division laws are often a main concern for those contemplating a Texas divorce. Most couples find themselves trying to sort their property and divide their assets while their relationship is at its worst point. Arguments are common, and many couples end up going to court because they simply can’t agree on what is fair. Texas is one of nine states that is a community property jurisdiction. In general, this means that any property acquired during a marriage (with a few exceptions) is equally owned by both spouses regardless of which spouse’s name holds title of that property or which spouse acquired the property. This can have a profound effect on the division of property during divorce proceedings. 

Texas gives judges discretion when dividing community property

Although Texas is a community property state, assets and debts are not always split equally. Texas has language within the community property law that empowers judges to make adjustments to the division of the marital estate. They can alter the way that they divide the assets and debts to reflect what they believe would be fair given the circumstances of the marriage. They may deviate significantly from the 50/50 division people often expect in community property asset division proceedings. 

How does Texas define community property and separate property?

Practically speaking, separate property is anything a spouse owned before marriage, as well as any inheritances, gifts, or personal injury awards the spouse received during marriage. With rare exceptions, all other assets and debts are jointly owned and considered community property. Under Texas community property laws, courts must assume that any property possessed by either spouse during marriage and at the time of divorce is community property. A spouse must prove to the Court that something is separate property by giving the Court “clear and convincing evidence” that the item isn’t community property.  

Should I hire an attorney if I am comfortable with a 50/50 split?

Even if you are comfortable with a 50/50 split of your community property, your spouse may not have that in mind. What’s more, your spouse may be hiding property or assets that you are entitled to, or unaware of, and the once amicable division is no longer so.  Consulting with an experienced attorney who has financial acumen may be your best first step toward your divorce to achieve a property division that is fair and equitable.

Is everything I own subject to division?

There may be some assets that you don’t have to worry about sharing with your spouse. Personal property that you owned before marriage, property that you protected in a marital agreement or that you inherited from someone else may not be at risk of division in a Texas divorce. However, your income and possessions, as well as your financial obligations, could be subject to division even if they are only in the name of one spouse. Business entities, real estate, and retirement accounts are among the assets that one spouse may technically hold in their sole name that may still be community property and subject to division by the Court. Learning more about how Texas courts handle divorce proceedings can help you feel comfortable about taking the next step toward your divorce.