Under Texas divorce laws, a couple’s property can be divided based on a variety of factors, from the categorization of marital vs. separate property to the couple’s own input and cooperation regarding the division of assets and debts. Although Texas courts, and especially the ones located here in Fort Worth, view property division from an equitable viewpoint (fair and just), women are sometimes given the shorter end of the stick.
During the first year after a divorce, a woman’s standard of living usually drops, while the man’s actually increases. This is especially when the woman is a mother and had to forego a lucrative career to take care of the children; sometimes, the mother also receives an insufficient settlement.
If you are going through a divorce and are worried about property division and how you’ll fare after the divorce is finalized, contact the leading divorce attorney in Fort Worth by calling the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart today. We offer compassionate, yet aggressive and thorough legal representation. Protect your rights during the divorce by calling our Fort Worth family law firm today.
What is Community Property in Texas?
As a woman and Fort Worth divorce attorney, I’ve come across many other women in the city who tell me about how they weren’t given a fair and justified property division. Part of this problem came from them getting inexperienced legal representation, while other situations occurred due to a minimal understanding of Texas laws.
First of all, before you start going through the divorce process here in Texas, you need to understand community property. According to Texas law, community property is defined as the all of the property that either spouse acquires during the marriage, except separate property. Community property is also commonly referred to as “marital property,” and all property in the marriage is assumed to be community property until a spouse claims that it is separate property and can prove it with evidence. This includes assets and debts.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to the following:
- Anything one spouse owned prior to the marriage
- Property inherited by only one spouse
- Property received as a gift by only one spouse
- Recoveries for personal injuries sustained by only one spouse
- This may not apply to the recoveries intended to compensate for lost earnings during the marriage
Division of Property During a Divorce in Texas
Now that you understand how Texas law defines marital property and separate property, it’s important to look at how the property is divided in a standard divorce proceeding. Please note that not all divorces proceed in a similar way, and, therefore, every division of property is often based on the unique factors of the marriage, the divorce, and other factors.
When a couple divorces, however, Texas law requires the division of property to be fair and reasonable, and when kids are involved, the courts tend to divide the property so that the children can enjoy a similar standard of life as before. As such, under the circumstances of the marriage, the courts must equitably divide the property. With regards to an equitable determination, the courts may also consider the following:
- Fault in the breakup of the marriage
- Disparity in earning between the spouses
- The health of each spouse
- Which spouse has custody of the children
- The education and future employability of each spouse
- And several other factors
Division of Pension and Employment Benefits
During the marriage, one or both spouses can accumulate interest in a pension, retirement, profit-sharing, and other employee benefits, and for the most part, the pension and employment benefits are divided as marital property in the divorce.
Division of Businesses or Professional Practices
Like other assets, a business is also considered in the valuation and division of community property. The determination of community property also includes the development of the business over the course of the marriage, and, often, a CPA or business appraiser will get hired to determine the value of the business.
Responsibility for Debt
Debts may also be divided during a divorce based on the debts accumulated during the marriage. For this reason, you should consider canceling joint accounts and transfer the balance to your name; keep in mind that creditors may still be able to collect from you, depending on the type of debt and those liable for the debt.
Call the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart for Divorce Representation
When going through a divorce, the high emotions experienced by both parties can dramatically influence their negotiating ability and ability to cooperate on issues like property division. For these reasons, it’s essential to speak with an experienced Fort Worth divorce attorney to determine the best option for you moving forward. Additionally, as a woman going through a divorce in Texas, it’s essential to be as diligent as possible, especially if you held the role as mother and/or homemaker. To speak with Fort Worth divorce attorney Wendy L. Hart, call our family law firm today at (817) 842-2336.