Texas Divorce Laws On Property Division

By Marcy Brinkley

When Texas couples divorce, they can reach an agreement on their own as to how to divide marital property or have a judge decide for them. The judge only has authority to divide community property, acquired during the marriage. The judge cannot divide separate property belonging only to one party or real estate located in another state.

Property Division in Texas

When couples get divorced in Texas, property they acquired during the marriage must be divided either by agreement or by the court. For purposes of divorce, property may include real estate, personal belongings, furniture, life insurance, retirement funds, bank accounts and any other type of assets. If the parties can agree on how to divide the property, the judge will approve the agreement as long as it is just and right in the court's judgment. If there is no agreement, each party must provide evidence to the court about the value of the property and any factors that might affect property division.

Separate Property

If you acquired property before your marriage, Texas considers it to be separate property that belongs only to you. If you received gifts, an inheritance or payment for personal injuries during the marriage, these are also your separate property. If property is clearly your separate property, the judge will award it to you. However, the situation is sometimes complicated when one spouse spends money on the other spouse's property. For example, if you sold your condominium before your wedding, the money you received is your separate property. If you put that money in the bank, the principle and interest are still yours at the time of the divorce. However, if you used that money to renovate your husband's house, you will need to provide proof that the money came from your separate property and request a reimbursement.

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Community Property

Any property acquired during the marriage, other than separate property, is community property unless proven otherwise. If there is no agreement on how to divide the community property, the judge will make the decision. Rather than splitting the property evenly, the judge divides the property in a "just and equitable" manner. To do so, the judge may consider factors such as who, if anyone, was at fault in breaking up the marriage; who will have custody of the children; and the ages and needs of the spouses.

Post-Divorce Property Division

If the divorce decree did not divide all property, the parties can ask for a post-divorce division. This situation sometimes occurs when one spouse hid property from the other or misrepresented its value. The injured spouse has the right to ask the court to divide the property within two years of the date that the other spouse denied ownership of it.

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