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Community or separate? How property is divided in a divorce

There is a lot of information out there about how property is divided in a divorce. While the overarching premise sounds simple, the reality can be more complicated. This is especially true if you’ve been married for many years or have a lot of property to consider.

Here’s a brief overview of how property division in Texas works, so you have an idea of what to expect.

Community property, separate property

Texas is one of nine states with community property laws, meaning just about all property a couple obtains during a marriage is owned equally by each spouse. That could include a vacation home the family rents out when not enjoying it themselves, or a suite of classic cars acquired throughout the years. Even business assets or retirement accounts might end up on the table.

The community property umbrella can cast a wide shadow.

There are some exceptions however, for what is referred to as separate property. This can include property one spouse obtained before the marriage, something received through inheritance such as a family heirloom, money generated from a separate property and more.

How community property will be divided

Community property law doesn’t mean Texas courts literally cut everything in half and hand the separate parts to each spouse. The court will divide property in a way it “deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.” Essentially, this means assets will be split equally overall but with some flexibility to account for certain circumstances.

In addition, it is possible for a separating couple to reach an agreement on their own about how to split their property. If that is the case, a judge may allow the division of property to follow that plan, regardless of whether it is separate or community property.

However, the more property you have the more complex this can all get. Even sorting out what might qualify as separate property can be a hassle. An attorney may be able to help guide you through this process, letting you focus on supporting your family during this change.

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