Frequent Questions About Property Division Laws In Texas Divorce
As a Texas divorce and family law attorney, one of the most frequent concerns I hear from clients is getting a fair divorce settlement on their marital property. For many divorcing spouses, the financial questions about dividing property and dividing debts are as important to them as getting answers to questions about child custody.
To help answer some of the pressing questions, I have compiled a short list of FAQs that I face every day. For specific questions about your case, however, it is important to talk to an experienced lawyer. Call my office in Fort Worth at 817-336-2325 or contact me by email to arrange a time to sit down together to discuss your divorce.
Q. Will we have to fight over every asset and debt?
A. Texas is a community property state. That means that all assets and debts accumulated over the duration of the marriage are subject to inventory, valuation and equitable distribution between the parties. (One exception includes either spouse’s family inheritance and property owned by one of the spouses prior to marriage.) However, equitable distribution does not necessarily mean splitting the assets and debts right down the middle. Through mediation, negotiation or litigation, the spouses will have the opportunity to decide what is fair and equitable, pending court approval of the final settlement agreement. I do not usually have to give advice on splitting furniture and appliances because most spouses are able to work that out between them.
Q. I was mostly at fault for causing the divorce. Will that matter?
A. There are various factors the court will consider when deciding about marital property division. Yes, fault for the divorce may be one of those factors, but it will likely not be the sole factor.
Q. I’ve never worked outside the home during our marriage. What about retirement funds?
A. The retirement accumulated by a working spouse is owned as community property by both spouses and is subject to being divided in the divorce. Part of the divorce process will usually include producing a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Any retirement savings such as a 401(k) or pension plan your spouse participated in will be subject to valuation and equitable distribution as community property.
Q. I signed a prenuptial agreement. Will that mean I won’t get my fair share?
A. It depends on the agreement. Texas Courts are more than willing to enforce a valid pre-nuptial agreement. Having a lawyer draft the prenuptial agreement is the safest way to ensure enforcement in a later divorce. If it is time for a divorce and you signed a prenuptial agreement, then talk with me about how solid it is and how well it may stand up to a potential attack.
Q. My spouse has some credit cards she took out only in her name. That will be her debt, right?
A. Under community property law, ALL debt may be considered community property and subject to equitable distribution between both spouses. Distribution of debt to each spouse may be negotiated as part of the property settlement, subject to court approval (adjudication).