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Property Division Attorney in Plano, Texas

You’re considering divorce, in the process of divorcing already, or have just been served papers. You and your spouse have acquired assets during your marriage in addition to some assets you held prior to tying the knot. What is Texas law concerning the division of property and assets upon divorce?

Texas is one of a few states that uses the community property standard. In other words, whatever is acquired by either spouse during the period of the marriage is considered to be jointly owned (50/50). However, during the divorce process, one spouse may actually end up getting more than the other one.

Property or assets acquired prior to marriage are assumed to be separate property, but they can become commingled during the marriage, rendering them community property.

If all of this sounds a bit confusing and contradictory, it sometimes does prove difficult to separate private from marital property when the issue ends up in court.

If you’re facing property division issues because of divorce in or around Plano, Texas, or nearby in McKinney, Denton, or Dallas, contact Thornton Law, PLLC. I’m a family law attorney with more than 15 years of experience in helping others navigate the divorce process. Divorce is a tough period in life, and you need and deserve the best legal counsel you can find. I will provide you with that.

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Community Property vs. Separate Property

At first glance, it might seem easy to separate community property from separate property. Everything acquired during the time of marriage is community property, and everything acquired separately before marriage is separate. Also separate is any inheritance, gift, or personal injury settlement received by either spouse during the marriage.

Thus, if you buy a house together, even if for some reason it is titled in one spouse’s name only, it is community property. The same goes for other physical possessions, such as cars, furniture, jewelry, and the like. The money accumulated in separate retirement, checking, or savings accounts during marriage is also community property. So too is accumulated debt, even if it is only in one spouse’s name and that person runs up huge debt while the two of you are together.

Now, suppose one spouse owned a rental home before marriage. That home would be considered separate property unless, during the course of marriage, the other spouse contributes to it either through “community” or personal money, or through other contributions such as physical labor.

If, for instance, the spouse with the rental union writes checks from a joint bank account (community money) to pay for repairs, the property can become commingled, and the other spouse may well become entitled to a share of it. If the non-owning spouse contributes labor, or personal money, to the upkeep of the property, that also can result in the property becoming a commingled asset.

When it comes to separate property, the burden of proof always falls on the party claiming it to be separate. A title deed dated before the marriage may be one such piece of “clear and convincing” evidence (with the commingled caveat mentioned above).

Division of Assets During Divorce

There are two ways to resolve a divorce in Texas, as just about everywhere else. You can have a contested resolution, where the spouses and their attorneys battle it out in court, or you can have an uncontested resolution, in which the spouses agree among themselves on all issues, including property division.

If you do go to court, as mentioned in the opening, the court will start with the legal principle of community property and a 50/50 split, but it may then sometimes skew the division of assets in favor of one spouse or the other based on a variety of factors. Texas law allows the court to order an unequal division if there are "just and right" reasons, including considerations of:

  • Whether one spouse is the primary caregiver for the children

  • The earning capacity of each spouse, as well as the education, ages, and health of each spouse

  • The amount of separate property each spouse owns

  • Whether one spouse was at fault for the end of the marriage

It’s always advisable to aim for an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on all the details of the divorce, including custody, parenting time, spousal or child support, and of course, division of property, you can present that to the court for approval. The court, however, will likely not approve a settlement that is too one-sided and favors one spouse over the other.

Property Division Attorney Serving Plano, Texas

Even in more straightforward cases where there is little or no separate property, agreeing on a division can be fraught with emotion and prove overly stressful for both spouses. You need the guidance of an experienced property division attorney to see you to the finish line. I will work with you to achieve the best, most equitable result possible. Contact me at Thornton Law, PLLC if divorce is looming for you in or around Plano, Texas, and surrounding communities.