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How Texas Community Property Laws Work

 Posted on January 18, 2024 in Divorce

Blog ImageIn divorce proceedings, the division of property is a hot topic. Either the divorcing couple or a judge must make a final decision on who receives what marital assets and debts before a divorce is finalized. Instead of equitable distribution, which most states use, Texas uses community property laws when dividing property. An attorney can offer advice and legal counsel in your divorce. The advice provided could be invaluable to your current situation.

What is Community Property?

Community property is all property acquired by either spouse throughout a marriage, including salaries, bonuses, real estate, and more. In divorce, community property is meant to be split into 50/50 portions, which include debt. The 50/50 split is considered a starting point before taking into account multiple factors that could affect the final distribution. One of the more prominent factors that could affect a decision is an established premarital or postmarital agreement between the spouses.

Separate property is any property owned by a spouse before the marriage took place. It can also be inherited or gifted property, and it is not typically subject to division during proceedings. Personal injury compensation is also considered separate property unless the income is transferred into a joint account.

How Community Property is Determined in Texas

Classification is the first step in Texas community property laws. Property must be classified as community property, or separate property, before it can be divided in court. Any commingling of assets, which is when separate property is mixed in with community property, can become community property and be subject to division. An example of this is if one spouse chooses to add inherited money to a joint account shared with their spouse and those funds are then used for joint marital expenses like a mortgage. Those funds can now be considered community property in the eyes of Texas law.

Once all property has been classified, a court can then begin a “fair and just” division of the marital estate. Premarital or postmarital agreements can address property division issues, such as separate property and debts, even if those assets were accumulated after marriage.

Separate Property Issues

One of the biggest issues with separate property is proving that it is separate. Texas allows a spouse to keep separate property after marriage so long as the owner can prove ownership or management of the property through proper documentation.

Documents that can help prove separate property in a divorce include:

  • Bank statements

  • Purchase agreements

  • Recorded deeds

  • Separate property agreements

  • Transfer agreements

Contact a Galveston County, TX Divorce Attorney

Remember that to keep your personal property as separate property, it must remain separate from joint property and you must maintain proof of sole ownership. Understanding the ins and outs of community property laws is essential to anyone looking to marry or divorce in Texas. For help deciphering the complexities of divorce and property division, you should look to an experienced Galveston, TX property division lawyer. Contact the law office of Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C. for a free consultation to discuss your divorce-related issues at 409-392-1511.

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