In Texas, couples that divorce typically need to divide their shared property. Such negotiations are often the most frustrating part of the divorce process, as people worry about how much they will lose and struggle to achieve an appropriate outcome.
Community property rules mean that most resources will be subject to division, but not every asset that someone owns is at risk of division in a Texas divorce. Understanding what assets are on the table for property division purposes can help people prepare for negotiations or develop a better strategy for family court.
Some assets are separate property
The community property rules in Texas specifically identify certain types of assets as exempt from division in a divorce. Each spouse may have certain assets that are not part of the marital estate and which they can keep for themselves in the divorce. Separate property often includes:
- inherited assets
- resources owned prior to marriage
- property or income protected by a marital agreement
Some of those assets could still be part of the marital estate due to people’s actions or promises during the marriage. For example, if someone owned a home prior to marriage and then lived in it with their spouse, the non-owner spouse may have some interest in the property. They will likely have contributed to its upkeep and maintenance or to tax and insurance payments. Any commingling of separate property with marital assets would also potentially make resources vulnerable to division in the divorce.
Couples (generally) must share what they acquired during a marriage
With the exception of property established as separate assets, most anything acquired during the marriage will be subject to division. Even assets that one spouse holds in their name without adding the other spouse to the title or the account are subject to division. Examples of separately-held property that would be part of the marital estate include separate checking accounts or retirement savings related to someone’s employment. Any contributions made during the marriage would be subject to division.
Establishing how much of an asset’s value is separate and how much is marital property can sometimes have a profound impact on the outcome of Texas divorce proceedings. Learning more about what assets are at risk during asset division can help those who are preparing for a Texas divorce put together a strong divorce strategy, whether they are negotiating or litigating their case.