Like a handful of other states, Texas follows what is called a "community property" system. When it comes to a divorce, this means that property gets divided a little differently than it does in other states, including some of our neighbor states. Basically, the law considers a married couple to hold what it calls community property jointly. With respect to a divorce, this means that whatever is community property will get divided 50-50. The even split is without regard to whose name the property is legally in.
The definition of community property is quite broad. In fact, the default is that all property a married couple owns is community property and, as a result, should get divided in half during a divorce. A person can claim certain items, like property held prior to marriage, inheritances, gifts and the like as separate property. So long as the court agrees, the person can then keep the property outright.
As a note of clarification, a court will not split every item of community property down the middle and give each divorcing spouse his or her half. In some cases, this may be either practically impossible or, at best, a very poor financial move that hurts all parties.
However, the court should divide the overall assets as close to 50-50 as possible or, otherwise, require one party to pay off the other in order to balance the matter out.
The concept of community property is not always intuitive. In some cases, it can raise important legal issues that can have a big impact on an Austin resident's financial future.