There are generally two systems of dividing property in a divorce: equitable distribution and community property. Equitable distribution, which is the more common system, generally divides property in a fair and equitable way, which is based on a variety of factors. Community property, on the other hand, generally deems all property acquired during marriage as being equally owned by each spouse. Texas is one of nine states that have a community property system in place to divide marital property.
Classifying Property in Texas
Texas defines community property as any property that's acquired by either spouse during the marriage (except separate property) and all property is presumed to be community property, unless proven otherwise. Texas considers property that's "owned or claimed before marriage, and [property] acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent" as separate property. Common examples of separate property include birthday gifts, inheritances, and family heirlooms. It's important to note, however, that even though community property is defined this way, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything is divided perfectly in half upon divorce.
Texas Property Division Law at a Glance
It's always important to know the actual language of a law, but it can be very helpful to have an explanation of the law in plain English. The chart below provides a quick summary of the Texas laws that relate to the division of property in the state, with links to the relevant statutes.
Texas Family Code, Section 7.001, et seq.
|Community Property Recognized?
Yes (Texas Family Code, Section 3.001, et seq.)
|How is Property Divided?
Generally, the court seeks to divide property in a way that's fair to each spouse and to any children they share.
Division of Certain Property Under Special Circumstances
The following real and personal property will be divided in a way that's fair:
- property acquired by a spouse while he or she was permanently living in another state if the property would've been classified as community property in Texas; or
- property that was acquired by a spouse in exchange for property and that would have been classified community property in Texas.
The following will be classified as separate property:
- property acquired by a spouse while he or she was permanently living in another state if the property would've been classified as separate property in Texas; or
- property that was acquired by a spouse in exchange for property and that would have been classified separate property in Texas.
The court will confirm that the following is separate property if there's a written agreement between the spouses:
- income from the spouses' wages, property, wages, etc., that was received on or after January 1 of the year in which the divorce was filed; or
- income from the spouses' wages, property, etc., that was received in another year during which the spouses were married for any part of the year.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Texas Property Division: Related Resources
For more information related to this topic, you can visit the links below:
Get Legal Help to Better Understand Texas Property Division
Divorce involves a lot of emotions and usually two people who, understandably, find it difficult to work together. For this reason, deciding certain things - including the division of property - can be a very difficult process. Why not get some help from a neutral party with experience in relevant laws? Contact a skilled divorce lawyer in Texas today to get help with property division and any other aspect of the divorce process.