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Dividing property in divorce can be tricky, but not impossible

If your marriage is coming to an end, you probably have lots of questions about the logistics of your divorce. Are the possessions and assets you brought to the relationship yours to keep? What about gifts you and your spouse gave each other? What will you do with those rings you worked so hard to pay for? These are issues every splitting couple has to work out when they divorce. Fortunately, there's a structure in place to help you sort things out.

The first thing to keep in mind is that laws vary between states when it comes to the division of property. Texas is a community property state, which means that all of the possessions you and your spouse acquired while you were married are assumed to be shared, and are therefore split evenly whenever possible. Property that you brought to the marriage is usually not subject to division, and instead stays with the spouse who originally owned it.

In some cases the best solution is to sell shared property and split the proceeds. But if, for example, you have an art collection you don't want to part with, you may have to agree on a value. To avoid more of the bickering that probably led to your divorce, you may want to call in a valuation expert who can either use an accounting method based on the book value -- similar to a car's Blue Book value -- or a sales method based on the market value.

Some of your property may not be easy to divide, of course. Let's say, for example, that you have a single, high-value antique. If one spouse wants it more than the other, he or she can buy the other out. One spouse can also force a sale, in which case the matter goes to court, where a judge will hear evidence to determine the value or order a sale.

When it comes to gifts, Texas and other community property states consider them separate property that are not eligible for division. This should save you a fight over the engagement ring, unless the husband made it absolutely clear when he got down on one knee that he wanted the family heirloom back if the marriage ended.

Source: Business Insider, "How To Divvy Up The Goods In A Nasty Divorce," Michele Bowman, Aug. 15, 2012

· Our firm handles a variety of complex property division cases and other divorce issues. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Dallas divorce and property division page.

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