Divorce Capital of Texas
Bonham, Texas, has the dubious honor of holding the highest divorce rate percentage in Texas, and among the highest in the nation, at nearly 19 percent. This divorce rate was a five-year average and included only couples whose divorce had become final at the time of the study.
Texas law declares any property possessed at the time of divorce to be community property. This community property is then split, with half going to each of the divorcing parties. However, you can retain possession of gifts, family heirlooms, and inheritances. All that is required to exempt some of your property from the equal division of assets is clear proof that it belongs solely to you.
Divorce is already complicated, but if you or your spouse are involved in a trust, it can be even more difficult to sort out what happens as you split. The handling of the trust will depend on the answers to multiple questions, including:
- Who is the trustee?
- Who are the beneficiaries?
- What are the terms of the trust?
- When and for what purpose was the trust formed?
Generally, the original terms of the trust will be followed as closely as possible. However, if the trust was formed shortly before the divorce and appears to have been utilized to shelter assets from the split, then it will likely not be honored.
Protecting Your Trust
If your spouse attempts to gain any portion of your trust fund during divorce proceedings, you should be prepared to prove that he or she has no claim to the trust or any resulting income. This proof can include trust documents, receipts for any contributions made to the trust, and even the testimony of others involved in the trust.
In some cases, even if the trust was originally your sole property, it may be split during divorce proceedings. These exceptions include:
- Prenuptial agreements – If you agreed to consider the trust community property prior to your marriage, that agreement will be honored.
- Mingled funds – If any community property or any of your spouse’s property has been contributed to the trust during your marriage, a judge is likely to award at least a portion of the trust to your spouse.
- Support payment – The trust income will be considered part of your income for the purposes of calculating spousal or child support. In this way, your spouse will still benefit from the trust.
If the trust is intended to be distributed to your spouse after your death, it is not considered community property and can be protected from the divorce proceedings. In fact, it is generally considered beyond the reach of divorce proceedings and the judge will be unable to rule on its distribution. You will want an experienced family law attorney to assist you in determining how to handle future distributions from the trust.
A Family Law Attorney Can Help
If you are going through a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney. The Houston attorneys at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. have years of family law experience and can help ensure you’re your assets and trusts are handled fairly, protecting your financial future.