When divorce is looming, one of the first things people do is make a list of assets. This often includes retirement and bank accounts, vehicles, the family home and other property. Various state laws govern marriage and divorce. Understanding them can help you prepare for the way they might affect you.
According to the Texas State Law Library, Texas is a community property jurisdiction, which can impact property distribution during a divorce.
Marital vs. separate property
Property acquired while married is marital property, per state legislation. You and your spouse own it equally. Community property may also include assets that started as separate property but became marital property due to commingling. It is separate property if you receive an inheritance or money as part of a personal injury settlement for injuries sustained after your union. Any property you acquire after your separation date is also separate.
“Just and right” property division
Texas statutes require an equitable division of marital property rather than splitting it down the middle. The court determines what is “just and right” based on your unique circumstances, which might include the following:
- Children and custody arrangements
- Each spouse’s earning power
- Health issues
If one spouse has significant separate assets, the court might consider that when splitting community property. Situations in which separate and marital property become commingled can become complex. Debt and property located in other states can also complicate the proceedings.
In some cases, you may negotiate for a specific property in exchange for other assets. For example, you may decide that keeping the family home is less important than keeping your 401(k). Understanding how taxes and state law impact property distribution is for obtaining the best possible settlement.