Every state’s divorce laws are different. In Texas, there are many nuances that a person should understand before proceeding with a divorce. Here are five things that you should know if you are considering a divorce:
1. Property Is Not Divided 50-50
Two people sit at a table. Between them is one sandwich. How should they split it? Would it make sense to cut it right down the middle? What if one of the people at the table just ate and the other has been skipping meals for days? What if one of the people at the table has enough money to buy a really nice meal every day and the other will be lucky to get another sandwich soon. Does it still make sense to split the sandwich in half?
Not under Texas law. Texas law recognizes that property division does not happen in a vacuum, so a variety of other factors are taken into consideration to achieve a split of community property that is “just and right,” but not necessarily equal.
2. You Do Not Automatically Get To Keep Your Separate Property
Assets you acquired prior to the marriage, along with some inheritances and gifts, are considered separate property and not subject to division. However, the owner of the separate property must be able to prove that it is indeed separate in order to prevent it from being divided with the rest of the community property. Determining whether an asset is separate property or community property is referred to as characterization.
3. Your Retirement Account Is Subject To Division
Pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts are not separate property in Texas. They are subject to division like all other assets. However, there are specific methods that need to be used to divide these unique assets. In some cases a Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) may be necessary.
4. Grounds For Divorce Can Impact Property Division
Texas is a no-fault state, meaning that no blame needs to be placed in order for a divorce to move forward. If one spouse was at fault, however, it can impact how property is divided. For example, if one spouse files for divorce on the grounds of adultery or cruelty, claiming to be a victim of domestic violence, that spouse may be able to get a larger portion of the community property.
5. Property Cannot Be Hidden
A fear that some people have when going through a divorce is that the other spouse will hide property to prevent it from being divided. While attempts may be made to hide property, it is actually quite difficult because of the discovery process. An experienced lawyer can use discovery to obtain all financial records, and most attempts to hide assets will be revealed in this process.
How these things will impact your divorce case specifically depends on the situation. At Heinrich Christian, PLLC, our attorneys will carefully review your situation and help you make the choices that are right for you.