Breaking Up is Hard to Do but Who Gets the Good Plates? A Guide to Property Division in Divorce

Texas is considered a “community property” state. This means that starting when a couple create the marriage, all the assets and all of the debts are shared in common. The process of unraveling the community is called “divorce.”

An analogy that I like to use is that of a big clay pot sitting on a table. Every day of the marriage, any assets that come into the marriage goes into that pot. For example: the deed of the house, income of the spouses, and any children. What also goes into that pot are all the debts. Car notes, mortgages, credit card balances etc. When the community goes through divorce, the pot gets poured out onto that table and everything gets split “equitably.” Perhaps a better word is fairly as the division does not have to be equal.

There is a lot to consider in this division.

  1. The length of the marriage can be taken into account as a longer marriage implies a greater degree intermingling of financial assets and can affect spousal support amounts and duration.
  2. Assets, notably property or other high value items that were owned separately before the marriage are usually considered to outside the community. While such assets bought during the marriage are part of the community and have to be divided.
  3. The value of assets, such as a house, car, retirement accounts acquired during the marriage have to be evaluated. This can be complicated and is worthy of its own article.
  4. Debts that come into the marriage will have to be divided. A mortgage, car payments, credit card debts, medical debts are just some of the debts that need to be divided.
  5. The tax consequences of dividing the assets and debts is another thing to consider. Selling a house can affect tax burdens and improper withdrawals from a retirement account can have substantial penalties.
  6. Texas does not have alimony but it does have Spousal Support. This is a limited program in both time and amount is awarded to a spouse that will have financial struggles upon the end of the marriage.
  7. Child Custody and Child Support are a very important part of this division and will be covered in a separate article. Briefly, the care and support of any children needs to be considered in great detail and spelled out in the divorce decree.

As you can see, there is a lot to ending a marriage. These are just some of the things to consider. As a divorce can be very acrimonious, it is useful to have a lawyer advise you in a rational manner on how best to divide both assets and debts as fairly as possible.

And here is a piece of advice: If the marriage is truly over, then get the divorce. Every day you are separated (and are still married) then every debt they run up is half yours; and for every dollar you make, half is theirs.

JOHN AND MORGAN is a versatile law firm that handles Family Law cases such as Divorce, Child Support, and Child Custody. We do Wills and Estate Planning. We also do Intellectual Property work such as Patents and Trademark

Call to schedule your consultation at 713-934-7000

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