If you are considering divorce in Texas, you have probably heard that we are a “community property” state, in which property acquired during the marriage by either spouse is presumed to be owned equally by both spouses. But how is this theory applied in practice? And what is the impact of each spouse’s separate, non-community property?
At Connolly & Shireman in Houston, our attorneys deal with these issues on a regular basis. Contact us to discuss your concerns about the division of community property.
Determining Which Assets Are Community Property
At the start of a divorce case, the presumption is that all property is community property and subject to division on a roughly 50/50 basis. However, if one spouse has clear and convincing evidence that particular property is actually separate property, it will not be subject to division.
The characterization of property as community or separate can have a major impact on the overall property division outcome and should be approached very carefully. These are technical and fact-specific issues, and the results are not always what one would expect them to be. We will ensure you are fully informed regarding these issues so that you can make an intelligent, informed decision.
For instance, both spouses may sign a note refinancing one spouse’s separately owned house, and even though the debt is owed by both spouses, the house remains separate property. On the other hand, when the dividends of one spouse’s separately owned stock are used to acquire more stock, the stock may become community property.
Characterization of the property is never an exact science, and a judge’s discretion is involved. We are attuned to these issues and prepared for appeals when necessary.
Evaluating the Impact of Separate Property
While only community property is subject to division, separate property can have an impact on the outcome as well. If the separate property was used to enhance the value of community property or vice versa, one spouse may deserve reimbursement.
For instance, if one spouse uses the income from assets owned before the marriage to pay most of the mortgage on the marital home, the house may be community property, but he or she may have a claim for reimbursement from the overall community assets.
These are complicated issues, and working through them requires a strong understanding of how the law is applied, and that understanding is definitely enhanced my experience. Our divorce lawyers have handled many cases that have required sophisticated untangling of separate and community property. Contact us to learn more.