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Community vs separate property: why it matters in your divorce

| May 14, 2021 | High Asset Divorce |

You may have heard that to get a divorce in Texas, you have to give your ex half of your belongings. This is somewhat true, but only to an extent.

Unlike most of the country, Texas is a community property state. In community property states, divorcing couples must split their community property 50/50. Community property is defined as any asset or debt that belongs to both spouses, which generally includes things acquired during the marriage.

But not everything you own as a married person is automatically community property. There is another category called separate property. As the term implies, separate property includes everything that either you or your ex are the sole owner of. Most often, separate property is assets and debts that one spouse owned before the marriage began and did not become commingled with community property assets. For example, a savings account that you started before the marriage, kept in your name alone, and never transferred the funds into a joint account could be considered separate property.

In some cases, you can acquire separate property during the marriage. Things like gifts and inheritances specifically given to your or your spouse only count as separate property.

Common disputes over property in divorce

Divorcing spouses do not always agree on what of theirs is community property and what is not. This is often the source of the greatest conflicts in divorces that take place in community property states like Texas. One spouse may claim that a valuable asset, like an ownership share in a business, is their separate property, while the other spouse contends that it is community property and that they are entitled to half the value of the business.

Another common issue is getting assets properly valued. If you are splitting the asset’s value, you need to know what the asset is currently worth. A big part of your divorce attorney’s job is identifying community versus separate property and getting accurate valuations of all key assets.