Property Division: Debunking Three Common Myths About Community Property In Texas
Texas is one of nine community property states. Community property is a legal standard that holds that all property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage is collectively owned by both partners. The community property standard has major implications for a divorce. There are many misconceptions about how this standard actually works. The lawyers at Lindamood & Robinson, P. C. debunks three of the most common myths about community property and divorce in Texas.
Myth #1: All Property is Community Property in Texas
False. All property and assets acquired during the course of the marriage are presumed to be community property. However, not all property is necessarily community property. To start, pre-marital property can remain separate property in Texas—assuming that pre-marital property is not commingled. Further, there are some limited exceptions to the community property standard in Texas for assets acquired during the marriage. Gifts and inheritance could remain separate property even if acquired during the marriage if the recipient spouse takes certain actions to keep that property separate. The bottom line is that the community property standards apply to marital property only, but a spouse may also own and control separate property in Texas.
Myth #2: The Community Property Standard Guarantees a 50/50 Split of Marital Assets
False. With the community property standard, property and assets acquired during the course of the marriage are presumed collectively (50/50) owned by the spouses. However, that does not guarantee a 50/50 split in a divorce. Under Texas law (Tex. Fam. Code § 7.001), state courts are instructed to divide marital property “in a manner that the court deems just and right.”
To be clear, a 50/50 split of the community property (marital property) is the most common outcome in Texas divorce cases. Still, it is not guaranteed by state law. Courts have the authority to grant an unequal, non 50/50 distribution of the marital property if that is deemed to be the just and fair outcome given the circumstances.
Myth #3: Dividing Property in a Divorce is Easy if We’re Splitting Things Evenly
False. Dividing property in a divorce is difficult even if you and your spouse agree that a 50/50 split is appropriate. If a particular asset will not be divided equally, such as a family business or a unique investment, valuation of the asset becomes very important. If the asset is undervalued or overvalued, it will alter the 50/50 division. It is still challenging to gather, organize, and split complex assets, including things like real estate (family home), retirement savings, vehicles, and personal property. An experienced Houston divorce attorney can help you reach a favorable and effective property division settlement.
At Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., we have experienced lawyers to handle all types of complex property division matters. If you have questions about community property, we can help. Contact us today for a completely confidential case review. We serve communities throughout Harris County, Ft. Bend County, and Galveston County, including Texas City, Galveston, League City, La Marque, Dickinson, Bacliff, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, San Leon, and Clear Lakes Shores.