Property Division in Texas
Property division in Texas is subject to specific laws. Except in rare cases, marital property gets divided in divorce; and in Texas, it is not necessarily divided 50/50. Any number of things may go into the division of the community marital estate: the relative age of the parties, the earning capacity of each party, fault in the break-up of the marriage – the list goes on. Proving separate property, which does not get divided, can be complex, and tracing a party’s separate property is an art all its own Additionally, the valuation of property is no easy task.
Disputes can arise easily and escalate quickly when property must be divided in a divorce. If you’re anticipating going through a divorce that includes property and valuable assets, you need an experienced property division lawyer who knows how to get the results you need in family court. Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson attorneys are experienced in dividing property, with offices in Dallas, San Antonio, and Frisco.
Affordable Advice On Texas Property And Debt Division Issues
If community property division issues represent the most important problems in your divorce case, you need to call our firm right away. Our team of lawyers is experienced with complex property division cases, and you’ll find that our fee is more than made up by the value we deliver in the final property division. Some of the best divorce lawyers in Texas practice in our law firm, but you can benefit from their experience and specialized knowledge without paying them by the hour. We can show you how first-class counsel on property division issues can be surprisingly affordable.
If your divorce involves the need to identify, assess, and divide an extensive, complex, or disputed marital community, our attorneys can advise you, protect your interests and assert them in court whenever necessary. Contact us to learn more about the distinctive features of our client service in complex marital property disputes.
Protecting Client Interests Through Outstanding Negotiation and Trial Skills
Our breadth and depth of experience in complex property disputes and asset division help us break down a marital community of any size or complexity. We also have the litigation and trial skills necessary to protect your interests in court under any circumstances, especially when there’s no realistic prospect of a negotiated settlement.
Our lawyers can help you across the full range of marital property division problems that are likely to come up in Texas divorce cases:
- Protecting your separate property through expert tracing and evidence
- Valuation and division of assets
- Valuation of business entities, professional practices, partnerships, or interests in closely held corporations
- Valuation of pension, retirement, or executive compensation packages
- Analysis of trust funds
- Valuation and character of athlete contracts
- Drafting and enforceability of premarital, postmarital, or partition agreements
- Property division issues affected by allegations of marital misconduct
- Nondisclosure, concealment, or fraudulent transfer of marital assets
- International property division issues
- Division of marital debts
- Appeals of trial court decisions on property division issues
Texas is a Community Property State
Texas is one of nine states in the country that follows community property laws during property division matters. During a divorce, all property is characterized as either community or separate. When there is not a valid agreement in place drafted by the two spouses, any property acquired by the couple during the marriage is considered community property.
Community property is subject to division by the court. While many people think community property states divide everything 50/50 in a divorce, that is rarely the case. Instead, the court will divide the property in a just and right manner.
The family courts in Texas will begin the property division process by identifying separate and community property. Once the community property has been established, the court will then consider other factors including:
- The length of the marriage
- Income disparity between spouses
- Whether the divorce involves children
- The health of each spouse
- The educational background of each spouse
- Business opportunities
- Whether one spouse was at fault for the end of the marriage
While many people know that assets are divided during property division hearings, debts are also divided between each spouse. These financial obligations are divided in the same manner as assets, in a just and right manner. If your spouse is responsible for a certain debt after property division hearings, it is essential that you remove your name from that obligation as soon as possible, as it can still lower your credit, and creditors can still come after you for a late payment.
When determining how to rightly and justly divide property in a divorce, the court will consider all of the above factors and any other relevant information. It is sometimes appropriate to divide a marital estate equally between two spouses. Other times, you may need to seek a disproportionate division of the community estate in your favor. Our Dallas property division attorneys can help in either case.
What Property is Divided in a Divorce?
Our knowledgeable attorneys have experience representing clients with complex property division issues, including:
- Retirement accounts and pension plans
- Restricted stocks and stock options
- Family businesses
- Marital debt
- Retail property
- Intellectual property
- Deferred compensation plans
- Inheritances and gifts
- Recreational vehicles, including cars, boats, and jet skis
- Trust assets
- Life insurance policies
- Personal belongings
Regardless of the complexity of your property division matters, our experienced attorneys can help.
How Fault Affects Property Division
Texas follows fault and no-fault divorce laws. A no-fault divorce only means that when one spouse files for divorce, they can simply state there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship and there is little chance of reconciliation. The no-fault laws do not mean that fault is never taken into consideration during the divorce process. When one spouse’s wrongdoing led to the dissolution of the marriage, it may affect them during the property division process.
Fault typically plays a part in property division issues when one spouse used marital funds for something such as an affair or a substance abuse problem. The court will determine that the spouse not at fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship deserves compensation for the marital funds they did not benefit from. As such, a judge may award them more in property division hearings.
How a Premarital Agreement Affects Property Division
If you and your spouse signed a premarital agreement before your marriage, you may have concerns about how it will affect your property division matters. It is true that a valid agreement will have an impact on how your property is divided during the divorce process. Our property division attorneys can review your agreement, determine if it is valid, and use it so you keep the assets most important to you, or challenge it in court.
There are many reasons a court may find that a premarital agreement is invalid. The most common of these are as follows:
- The inclusion of unacceptable provisions: Premarital agreements largely cover financial issues associated with the marriage, such as which assets are considered separate. An agreement cannot, however, modify or override child support obligations issued by the court.
- The agreement includes undisclosed or false information: When two people enter into a premarital agreement, they must do so honestly and remain forthcoming about their assets and liabilities. If it is found that one spouse did not adequately disclose their income, undervalued assets, or failed to remain completely honest, the court may deem the agreement invalid.
- One spouse was coerced into signing: Television and the movies often use dramatic plot twists in which one party demands their soon-to-be spouse signs a premarital agreement before the wedding, or they will call it off. In real life, this can be used as a reason to invalidate an agreement. Both spouses must enter into the agreement willingly and without duress, which is why it is usually best to sign a premarital agreement months before the wedding.
- The agreement was not executed properly: Premarital agreements are a contract and as such, they must be in writing and both parties must voluntarily sign it.
Due to the fact that so many issues can invalidate a premarital agreement, it is always best to work with a Dallas family lawyer that can help you draft one that will not face challenges in court.
How a Marital Property Agreement Affects Property Division
Another agreement that can significantly impact property division matters is the marital property agreement, also sometimes called a post-marital agreement. Spouses can enter into a marital property agreement after they are already married to change the character of community and separate property. Like premarital agreements, marital property agreements must also be in writing and both spouses must sign it voluntarily. Through a marital property agreement, you can change Texas’ community property system and agree to distribute community property in another manner.
For example, if you had a retirement account before marriage, any funds added to the account during the marriage are subject to community property division. So, if you accumulated $100,000 in a retirement account with your spouse during the marriage, it would typically be divided fairly between you and your spouse. A marital property agreement will allow you to divide the funds in a manner you choose and they will not be a part of your property division hearings in court.
Property Division Solutions Based on Personal Goals and Practical Considerations
Our job as divorce lawyers is to protect your interests and make sure that the community or separate character of the property involved in your case is properly identified at accurate values and based on a complete and candid disclosure of assets, debts, and income. Then we go to work to define and accomplish the marital property distribution plan that makes the best sense for your circumstances. We work closely with our clients to help them identify their own priorities and objectives because they’re the ones who need to live with the consequences of these critically important decisions for years to come.
In the more complex range of property division problems, expert analysis is often necessary on both the valuation and characterization issues that the divorcing spouses will need to resolve. Many factors, including uneven professional prospects and earning power, can justify a greater distribution in favor of the financially weaker spouse. If the misconduct of either spouse will be asserted as a reason for a lopsided division of marital assets, however, our skill and experience in divorce litigation will go far toward protecting your interests, no matter which side of that issue you’re on.
Most divorcing couples’ reasonable property division goals can be achieved through negotiation. If negotiation is unsuccessful, however, we are prepared to go to trial to protect your property rights.
Call Our Property Division Attorneys in Dallas Today
Our clients know we’re on their side, and our reputation as a formidable opponent – both in the courtroom and out – serves our clients well. To learn more about the way outstanding Dallas property division attorneys can support your objectives on affordable terms, contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson at any of our three Texas locations.