Texas Divorce Laws on House Disputes

By Elizabeth Rayne

Because Texas is a community property state, courts in Texas generally divide property equally following a divorce. However, the situation is more complicated when it comes to a house. Which spouse gets the house is largely dependent on when the home was purchased as well as where the mortgage payments are coming from. In some cases, the spouse who does not get the house will instead receive a greater portion of the remaining marital property, while the spouse with the house may receive more of the marital debt.

Because Texas is a community property state, courts in Texas generally divide property equally following a divorce. However, the situation is more complicated when it comes to a house. Which spouse gets the house is largely dependent on when the home was purchased as well as where the mortgage payments are coming from. In some cases, the spouse who does not get the house will instead receive a greater portion of the remaining marital property, while the spouse with the house may receive more of the marital debt.

Community and Separate Property

Texas is a community property state, meaning that most assets acquired during the marriage are owned equally by both spouses. Courts distinguish between community property, which may be divided during a divorce, and separate property, which is not divisible. Separate property includes anything either spouse owned before the marriage as well as gifts, inheritances or recovery from personal injury lawsuits received during the marriage. If a home was purchased by a spouse during the marriage, it will likely be considered community property. However, if a spouse provides evidence that the house was purchased prior to the marriage, received by gift or inheritance, or purchased with separate assets, it may be considered separate property.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Community Property Division

If the house is considered community property, the court will consider several factors to determine which spouse should have the house, as well as how other community assets should be divided. In contrast to equitable distribution states, community property states, like Texas, assume community property should be divided equally. If the couple does not have children, neither spouse was at fault for breaking up the marriage, and each spouse has approximately equal financial resources after the marriage, the court will likely divide community property 50/50. However, this division may be adjusted based on such factors as income and income potential of each spouse and fault of either spouse. After determining the percentage of community property each spouse is entitled to, the court may ask the couple to sell the house to divide its value or will award the house to one spouse and offset its value with other assets or debts.

Inception and Reimbursement

In Texas, courts consider whether or not a house is community or separate property based on how the property was originally acquired. If one spouse places a down payment on a house before getting married, but makes mortgage payments with community assets after the marriage, the house is still considered separate property owned by one spouse. However, because community property was used to pay for part of the mortgage, the spouse who does not get the house may be entitled to reimbursement for her portion of the marital payments made on the house.

Reimbursement for Community Contributions

If a house is considered community property, but one spouse makes mortgage payments with his separate property, he may be reimbursed for those contributions before the court divides the community property. However, in this case, the contribution may be "offset" or reduced based on how the spouse benefited from the use and enjoyment of that property. The reduction is based on the value of tax deductions earned and money saved on living expenses, including rent money the spouse would otherwise have to pay if it were not for the marital home.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce & Mortgages in California

References

Related articles

Home Ownership & Divorce in Illinois

Owning your own home is still the American dream, but a home can be tough to split between divorcing spouses. For most couples, the home is more valuable than the bank accounts. In Illinois, marital property -- often including the family home -- is split equitably between spouses, though not necessarily equally. This often means the house must be sold to split its value between the spouses.

Can a Spouse Get Half of the House in a Divorce in Connecticut?

Your home may be the most valuable asset you and your spouse own, so it will be important for you to claim your ownership interest during a divorce. Connecticut courts split all assets in an equitable manner; the split should be fair if not equal. If you and your spouse both get a share of the house in your divorce, you may have to sell it or refinance to actually split the value.

Is Insurance Accident Money Before a Marriage Considered Communal Property?

Compensation for injuries and damages associated with automobile or other types of accidents can take significant time to process. When payment finally arrives, it is not uncommon for people affected by the accident to have moved on with their lives. In states that recognize community property, the act of getting married does not automatically give your spouse an ownership right in insurance proceeds, either in divorce or at death. However, how you treat the property during the marriage, intentionally or inadvertently, can override this general rule.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

California Divorce Property Settlement Laws

California is a community property state, meaning a husband and wife each own half of all the property and assets ...

Divorce in Washington State With Separate Assets

Divorcing couples in Washington should be aware that the state has a somewhat unusual divorce law, in that courts are ...

Ohio Divorce Law on a House in a Spouse's Name

In Ohio, marital property is subject to equitable distribution in divorce cases. For many couples, the family home is ...

Joint Tenancy and Divorce in California

All divorcing couples in California should carefully review titles to their real property to determine if it is ...

Browse by category