Are you going through a divorce? Are you worried about losing your property and assets? Do you want to put yourself in the best possible position regarding asset and debt division?
Texas couples whose marriages disintegrate are subject to community property laws. What this means is that all of the assets and gains of the marriage must be divided equally. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't use advice and guidance from legal and financial professionals to ensure that you get what you need to move on in life.
For many couples, retirement accounts are substantial assets. In fact, the amount you've saved or invested over your working years for your retirement could be your biggest financial asset, other than your house. After all, you're hoping to live off of those savings or investments for several decades. That means, among other considerations, that your pension and retirement accounts will in all likelihood be split up if you divorce.
During a divorce, couples typically clash over two primary issues: child custody and asset division. Even if you and your spouse do not have children, you could find yourself in a protracted divorce battle if you can't see eye to eye about who gets what.
When couples divorce, people typically focus on issues like asset division and child custody. However, the division and allocation of debts can have a significant effect on the size of the property settlement you receive. You may think that just because you didn't co-sign for a credit card, you won't be responsible. The courts in Texas, however, have a different view when it comes to financial responsibility and fair division of both assets and debts in a divorce.
Certain community assets are difficult than others to accurately divide during a Texas divorce. For many couples, retirement accounts and pensions may seem straightforward. After all, these accounts have a clear balance. It's easy to determine what was deposited during the course of the marriage, as opposed to what was in the account before the marriage.
Divorce is never easy, especially when it comes time to decide who gets what. If your spouse wants the main residence, does that mean you will get the vacation house on the lake? What about the oil and gas interests the two of you invested in a few years ago, the retirement accounts, and even the furniture? In order to ensure you are getting a fair divorce settlement, it is important to understand how Texas courts divide marital property.
When it comes to divorce, Texas is a "no-fault" state. This means that you do not have to state a ground when you file a petition for divorce. You only have to say that your marriage has become "insupportable because of discord or conflict of personality". In other words, you can divorce for the simple reason that you and your spouse don't get along with each other. The question of possible marital misconduct by one spouse does not come into play until later in the process, when property division and alimony issues are decided. When looking at these issues, the court can take marital misconduct factors into consideration. This means that a no-fault divorce can result in something other than a 50-50 split in community property.
In our last post, we began looking at Texas law concerning how courts in this state define community property and separate property. In addition to the rules we mentioned last time, there are special statutory rules that apply to gifts between spouses, certain types of employee benefits, and certain types of insurance proceeds.
We’ve previously spoken on this blog about the two general approaches used by state courts when dividing property in divorce. As we’ve noted, a small number of states use the approach known as community property, which in some states involves a presumption of 50 percent ownership of the marital estate for each party. Equitable distribution, by contrast, does not have a 50 percent ownership presumption, but seeks to award property in a way deemed fair under the circumstances.