In the United States, there are two main methods of dividing a married couple’s property in a divorce: 1) equitable distribution, and 2) community property. Texas is one of several states, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico that follows the community property method of distribution.
Under Texas’ community property laws, most of the property acquired during the course of a marriage belongs to both spouses, regardless of who earned the money or whose name is on the title. This means that the community property is subject to division in the event of a divorce.
However, not all property is divided in a Texas divorce; separate property is not subject to division upon the dissolution of a marriage. Thus, the first task at hand in a divorce is to determine which property is considered community property and which property is separate, and therefore not subject to division.
What is separate property? Separate property includes:
- Anything that a spouse owned before the marriage.
- An inheritance received by only one of the spouses.
- Gifts that were given to one spouse alone.
- Personal injury awards received by one spouse, with the exception of the portion awarded for lost earnings.
When a couple divorces, it is ideal for the spouses to reach an agreement on asset and debt division, with the assistance of their respective attorneys. However, if the spouses are unable to reach such an agreement, the judge will decide for them.
Generally, the courts divide a couple’s property in a manner that is considered fair given the unique circumstances. When determining an equitable division of a marital estate, the court will consider all facts it deems relevant, such as adultery, wasteful dissipation of marital assets, which spouse has custody of the children, each spouse’s health and respective earning capacity.
We are only scratching the surface on the state’s community property laws. If you have further questions about property division in Katy, Texas, please contact our firm to schedule a consultation.