If divorce is in your future, you may naturally fear how it will affect you financially. This is true whether you have accumulated assets with your spouse over the past few years or over the past few decades.
Property division remains one of the most contentious aspects of divorce proceedings in Texas and elsewhere. Here is a look at how courts handle the splitting of assets in the Lone Star State.
Property division systems
Two systems for dividing assets during a divorce proceeding exist in the United States: community property distribution and equitable distribution. Equitable distribution -- the more frequently used one -- involves dividing property in a manner that is equitable and fair, based on several factors. Meanwhile, community property division involves splitting all marital property 50/50 between the two divorcing spouses.
Texas follows the system of community property division along with just eight other states. However, when using the community division approach, your divorce court in Texas will aim to split assets in a manner that is fair to both you and the other party, as well as to the children you share.
What exactly is community property?
In Texas, community property is essentially any property that you or your spouse acquired while married. This is different from separate property, which refers to any assets that you or your spouse claimed or owned prior to getting married. It also refers to assets that either of you acquired after your wedding day by descent or gift.
Examples of community property in Texas include the marital home, shared cars, and shared bank accounts and investment accounts. Meanwhile, examples of separate property include family heirlooms, birthday gifts and inheritances.
Your rights during property division
During your divorce proceeding, you and your spouse may choose to go through divorce mediation or informal negotiations -- alternatives to traditional divorce litigation. These processes tend to lead to less conflict and mutually satisfactory outcomes compared with going to trial.
However, you and your future ex-spouse may have trouble seeing eye to eye on how to go about splitting your property even during mediation or negotiations. In this situation, you will need to go to trial to have a judge determine how to divide your property. Either way, it is within your rights to pursue the most personally favorable asset distribution outcome considering the circumstances surrounding your marital breakup in Texas.