Assets, assets, assets. When going through the divorce process, the fight over assets can get pretty intense. The goal, for most individuals, is to walk away from the marriage with a 50/50 split, but that does not always happen. Texas is a community property state, which means the 50/50 split is possible, but a number of factors must be considered, which can alter the final property division settlement.
What exactly does community property mean? What factors can affect how the court will divide assets? Does a judge get the final say on the matter?
Community property is…
In the United States, you have some states that go by equitable distribution laws -- meaning when a couple divorces, each party should walk away with a fairly equal value of assets. This does not mean that all marital assets and income are evenly divided down the middle and distributed to each party. That even division is what usually happens in a community property state.
When thinking about community property, the key words to remember are marital assets. Those who brought individual assets into their marriages and kept them separate would be able to keep them in the event of divorce. That is true anywhere. Examples of separate assets include:
- Civil judgments
- Prized family possessions
- Other property purchased before marriage
So, marital assets include money in shared bank accounts, shared real estate, shared debts, co-mingled assets and money earned during the marriage -- either as take-home pay or in retirement savings -- among other things.
What might change how the court ultimately divides your property?
Before getting married, some couples sign prenuptial agreements. If considered valid, the court may divide property according to the terms set forth in this legal document -- even if the terms are not fully in line with community property laws. The same goes for cases involving postnuptial agreements or a number of other special orders.
Is it up to me or a judge?
The resolution for property division issues usually occurs in one of two ways: negotiations or litigation. The vast majority of divorce cases actually never go to court. Couples, with the assistance of legal counsel, are usually able to reach agreeable terms out of court. Those who cannot come to terms and do find themselves in front of a judge will have to be happy with whatever the judge decides or prepare to go through the appeals process.
Divorce is not an easy thing to go through. Getting a fair settlement can take time, but it is possible. In the end, you may or may not get a full 50/50 split -- every case is different. With legal assistance, you can work to achieve settlement terms with which you feel satisfied.