Couples going through a divorce may spend a considerable amount of time determining how to divide their community property.
When a married couple in Texas gets a divorce, they may have serious disagreements over some of the assets that they own. Each side may have specific items that they want to keep, but, it might be difficult to find an arrangement that meets each person's needs and goals.
A couple's marital property estate usually consists of separate and community property. Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during marriage. Property owned before marriage and property acquired during the marriage by gift, devise or descent is a spouse's separate property. Upon divorce, property possessed by either spouse during the marriage is presumed to be community property. A spouse who proves by "clear and convincing" evidence that property is separate may rebut this presumption. A court is required to order a "just and right" division of the parties' marital estate. However, this division applies to community property only, as a court is not authorized to divide a spouse's separate property.
In some situations the parties may enter into either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that establishes each party's rights upon divorce. Prenuptial agreements (effective on marriage) and postnuptial agreements (effective upon execution) allow the parties the freedom to arrange their marital property rights as they desire. Each party should take time to thoroughly review the agreement prior to signing it, as property not contained in the document (including income earned during the marriage) may be subject to a "just and right" division by a court.
As you can imagine, disputes over the status of marital property can become quite complex. It may be necessary for you to work with financial professionals to determine if the property needs to be labeled as community property or separate property. Once the complete value of the marital estate is known, including assets and liabilities, it may be easier to develop ways of distributing the items equally between you and your soon-to-be former spouse.
Being prepared for this part of the process can save you a lot of time and effort later. Some spouses may not wish to end the marriage, and could withhold information about certain assets. It might take time to determine exactly how much property is owned, as well as the value of these items. If you have this prior to filing, it will be much easier to prove your version of events.
You should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area once you begin thinking of filing for divorce. Your attorney can analyze your situation, and provide you with the practical advice that you need while going through such a stressful time. This will help you focus on the important decisions that you need to make, which can make the divorce move much more smoothly.
Keywords: divorce, property division, family law