Texas is considered a community property state, meaning that all property that is acquired during the length of the marriage is considered to belong to both the husband and the wife. In addition, this means that any debt incurred during the marriage by either party is also presumed to be responsibility shared by both parties.
While all property obtained during the length of the marriage is considered to belong to both parties, certain property that was owned by one party prior to the marriage may be considered separate property. Additionally, if the property was given to one spouse as a gift or through inheritance, this property may also be considered separate property. However, separate property can be easily commingled. In order to protect separate property, it is recommended that both parties enter into a Premarital or Marital Property Agreement, which may protect a person’s separate property during the marriage.
Marital Property Agreements can be entered into at any time during the marriage. This signed document is essentially a legal agreement stating that, should the couple get a divorce, certain property will belong to one spouse. Premarital Property Agreements are signed prior to the marriage and go into effect the day that the two parties are married. Any property that is not included in the agreement will be divided fairly between both parties.
Prior to a marriage, a family law attorney may help their client write out an agreement that helps the person protect property that they already own, such as certain financial assets or real estate. If no agreement is in place and the couple decides to get a divorce, the attorney may assist with negotiating a division of property that is fair to their client and helps them protect their rights.