Disentangling community property in a Texas divorce

When two spouses are looking at the prospect of divorce, sometimes the most daunting and complex issue is property division. In complex divorces, there may be an unwieldy blend of assets that will take some careful disentangling to figure out. There may also be debt that belongs to one or both spouses, and accurately evaluating and dividing these items is the key to a fair settlement.

In Texas the legal jargon for marital property is community property. The other kind of property is separate property, which generally consists of those assets that were acquired by one spouse before the marriage. If there is dispute over separate property, then the burden of proving that the property falls into that category is left to the spouse who claims ownership. With these categories in mind, let’s consider some types of property that may need to be divided between divorcing spouses.

Sometimes the marital home is the most valuable asset, and sometimes it isn’t. Parties to a divorce will want to be sure before they take on the responsibility of maintaining the house after the split. If there are assets such as stock options, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance policies, oil and gas royalties or business assets, then negotiating with regard to those items may be more worthwhile than staying in the house you shared with your soon-to-be ex.

And the value of some assets may not be immediately clear when you decide to divorce. For example, if you think intellectual property or an art collection may increase in value over time, then you might want to negotiate for a piece of the proceeds. And, of course, you’ll always want to be aware of any tax liabilities that might come with your share of the settlement.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: Don’t Forget These Marital Assets,” Jeff Landers, Oct. 16, 2013