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What is fair when dividing community property in a Texas divorce?

In a community property state like Texas, marital debts and assets are supposed to be divided 50/50 – but is that always what happens?

Not exactly. If you’re approaching a divorce in this state, there are a few things you need to understand about the process of dividing up the marital estate.

First, you need to identify community property and debts

You have to know what you have before you can divide it. Almost everything acquired by a spouse during the course of their marriage – whether it is a debt or an asset – becomes part of the marital estate. It makes no difference if only one spouse’s name is on the title or contract, so long as the asset was not a gift, an inheritance, acquired prior to the marriage or part of a personal injury settlement.

There are also some situations where a spouse may have acquired a certain amount of interest in what was one spouse’s separate property. For example, imagine you owned your home prior to your marriage and kept it solely in your name. That’s your separate property. However, after your marriage started, you made the house payments out of community funds. Your spouse may claim that they are owed a share of the equity that you’ve earned or reimbursement for some of the money spent on your home.

Separate property can also be turned into community property if it is commingled with marital assets. For example, your spouse’s inheritance from their parents is their separate property – unless they did something like put it in a joint savings account with both your names on it.

Second, you have to consider what’s actually fair

While a 50/50 split is the “default” option when it comes to dividing up the community property in a divorce, judges are allowed to consider what is “just and right” under the situation. That gives the court a great deal of leeway to deviate from the even shares you might expect.

The final take on this subject is this: You cannot be 100% certain how a court will handle the property division process, even in a community property state. You may achieve a more desirable outcome by negotiating with your spouse for a fair split instead of trying to litigate. That puts more power over your future back in your hands. Seeking legal guidance as you pursue a fair outcome can help you to safeguard your interests accordingly.

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