One of the most important questions when seeking a divorce is how will the marital property be divided. As this has a direct impact on your and your family's future, it is important to have to have an understanding of the process before you head to the courtroom.
While Texas is a community property state, it operates a little differently than other community property states. You cannot expect an automatic 50-50 split of property. Instead, the property is split in a "right and just" manner. This will be determined by the judge and is different for every situation.
Often, there is an unequal distribution of property for several reasons. These can include, the educational backgrounds of the two parties, children from the marriage, earning capacities, who will be primarily responsible for the children on a day-to-day basis, and the health and age of the two parties.
If one party is a higher earner, that does not factor into the final division of the property; however, it does become more complex as the types of assets normally include items such as compensation packages, more than one home, and business interests. Also, if one spouse has been a homemaker, there will often be considerations for spousal support.
One thing that does not come into play in determining the division of property is the conduct of either of the two parties unless one of the parties conduct was meant to intentionally cause harm to the other person. Intentional harm can include:
- Squandering money
- Spending money on a paramour
There is a difference between marital property and separate property. This distinction is important as separate property is not divided, nor awarded to the other party. Separate property can include:
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Property acquired as a gift
Retirement plans are normally divided equally, and as for your home, there are no special rules, but judges in Texas tend to do what they can to leave the children in their home, so it is typically awarded to the parent that will be in possession of the children.
When it comes to the division of marital property in Texas, it is always best to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. This will help you protect your property and place you in the best possible position after your divorce.