Are you living in Texas and considering getting a divorce? If so, it's essential to understand the impact TX’s community property laws may have on your case. These legal principles create a relationship between spouses regarding personal rights, responsibilities, and distributions of assets. In particular, as a community property state, Texas requires that any debt or assets acquired during the course of marriage must be split evenly between spouses in a divorce.
Knowing the ins and outs of Texas' community property laws before filing for divorce can help you safely navigate this tumultuous period. In this blog post, we'll outline the main features of these laws and how they could affect your specific situation if you decide to move forward with dissolving your marriage.
Community Property 101
Texas is one of nine states in the US that follows the community property law. This means that any property acquired or possessed by either spouse during their marriage is presumed to be community property. As stated in Texas Family Code Sec. 3.003, this also includes property acquired during and up to the dissolution of the marriage. This presumption puts the burden of proof on the spouse claiming the property as separate property.
According to Sec. 3.001, a spouse's separate property may consist of property owned or claimed by that spouse before the marriage. This includes assets such as bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal property. Additionally, property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, inheritance, or descent is also considered separate property. Similarly, any recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during the marriage is considered separate property, except for any recovery for loss of earning capacity.
What If I Have a Prenup or Other Marital Agreement?
As previously mentioned, in Texas, most assets obtained during a marriage will be presumed to be jointly held by the couple. However, if you and your spouse have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, this contract may supersede Texas' basic community property rule. A prenuptial agreement can impact property division by allowing couples to identify assets they wish to keep separate in the event of a divorce.
Common types of property frequently itemized as separate in a marital agreement:
- Homes and other real estate
- Income earned from already established investments
- Retirement accounts and pensions
- Intellectual property
- Family businesses and other business interests
A couple may also waive their obligation for spousal support in the event of a divorce in their prenuptial agreement. However, it is worth noting that the courts assess these types of provisions on a case-by-case basis, and they are not guaranteed to uphold them if they find they unfairly disadvantage one spouse in favor of the other.
Consult with Qualified Legal Representation if You Have Questions
Going through a divorce is never an easy process, especially if you're unsure about the legal implications of Texas' community property laws. That's why it's essential to consult with qualified legal representation, like our team at the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC. An experienced divorce attorney has the knowledge to guide you through the complexities of this legal process.
In particular, one of the main benefits of working with an attorney is their ability to help you understand the nuances of community property laws. Property division is one of the most complicated, time-consuming aspects of divorce. The help and guidance of a skilled family law attorney can go a long way in helping you appreciate how Texas' community property and property division laws apply to your unique situation, including your assets and liabilities.
Have questions about property division? Contact the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC to schedule a consultation.