Is all property eligible for division in a Texas divorce?

Texas couples who are filing for divorce should understand the difference between community and separate property before creating a settlement.

When couples file for divorce in Texas, there are many issues that must be addressed such as child support, alimony and property division. The property and assets that a couple acquires throughout the course of a marriage is often referred to as community property in Texas. However, certain items may be labeled as separate property, and may not be eligible for division when a couple decides to terminate their marriage. In some cases, it may be difficult to distinguish between community and separate property. This is especially true in complex divorce cases, where various types of property, assets and debt are involved.

A look at community property

Texas is one of nine states in the nation that uses a community property model of property division. Under this model, property and debt acquired during the marriage is deemed "community," and deemed to be equally owned by both parties to the marriage, even if they contributed to it unequally. In the event of divorce, the community property must be divided in a just manner and right way (not necessarily 50-50).

Items and assets that are considered community property may include but are not limited to the following:

• Homes, vehicles, timeshares and recreational toys

• Savings accounts, checking accounts, 401k plans, retirement funds, mutual funds, stocks and IRA accounts

• Memberships to exclusive golf courses, country clubs and other groups

• Valuable collections that were accumulated during the marriage, such as art, antiques, cars, coins, etc.

• Intellectual property, including copyrights, trademarks and patents

• Lottery ticket winnings

Exceptions to the general rule that everything acquired during the marriage becomes community property are (1) gifts, (2) inheritance. Also, property owned prior to marriage is by definition separate property. Any property deemed separate property is not subject to division in divorce.

What is separate property?

However, there are some situations where property that is retitled to include the other spouse's name, or separate funds that are co-mingled may lose its separate status. Once this occurs, the money and property may become community property and may be divided in a settlement.

Get your questions answered

People who are going through a divorce may be overwhelmed with legal questions about the divorce process. Whether you are entering into a messy divorce situation or have started the divorce paperwork and simply need help, you may want to seek assistance from an attorney in Round Rock. It is crucial that you understand exactly what is going into the final settlement, and a lawyer may be helpful in ensuring that you get everything you deserve.