When a married couple divorces, they must divide their property according to state law. In Texas, this begins with dividing the community property from any separate property.
Separate and community property
Examples of separate property can include property owned by one of the spouses prior to marriage; property received as a gift or inheritance of one spouse during the marriage; personal injury awards received by one spouse; and stock dividends or capital gains on separate property investments of one spouse. Debts will also be treated in similar fashion.
Generally, community property includes any assets or debts the couple acquired during the marriage. Under Texas law, community property is considered to be owned jointly by both spouses. However, this does not mean that the parties will split it equally in divorce. Some types of assets, such as a family car, cannot be easily split in half. Instead, the parties negotiate a settlement which meets their needs and satisfies guidelines of state law.
Some of the most complex situations involve commingled assets. For instance, the couple may have purchased a home together during the marriage, meaning it might be considered community property. However, in order to buy the property, each spouse contributed separate funds they had acquired before the marriage, and one spouse contributed much more than the other. In this type of situation, the home may be considered as commingled property.
Reaching a property division agreement between divorcing spouses can be a challenging process. Couples may agree but they may not. Community property rules and considerations such as how long the couple was married; the separate property assets owned by each of the spouses; the earning capacities of each of the spouses; and any costs associated with childrearing may all be considered. Those who are considering divorce can learn more about the process by speaking with an experienced family law attorney.