Most people living in Texas know that it is a community property state. Even those who have never contemplated divorce before have likely heard about the rules that determine how the courts handle property divisions. The Texas community property statutes help to protect those who earn less than their spouses by making whatever each spouse acquires during the marriage part of the marital estate.
Various concerns about property division are among the biggest deterrents to those considering divorce. People may worry about the potential obligation to divide everything they own and earned during the marriage with their spouses. Yet, a 50/50 division of all resources is not inevitable during a Texas divorce.
Texas employs a unique approach to community property
In some states, like Arizona, the family courts very strictly interpret community property laws. They often divide the marital estate in half. That is not automatically what occurs in a Texas divorce.
Instead, the property division process begins with the assumption that a 50/50 division is potentially fair. However, the judge overseeing the case has to look at many other considerations beyond just what assets are in the marital estate. They look at the separate property and earning potential of each spouse. They consider the health of the spouses and how long the marriage lasted. Even someone’s unpaid work around the home might influence how the courts decide to divide their property.
If the judge determines that a 50/50 division of assets might not be fair given the information available about the family, that they can award marital property in any way they see fit. Essentially, while Texas is a community property state, the process is somewhat similar to the equitable division process in other states.
There is no guarantee of a 50/50 division of assets, and many litigated divorces deviate from that expectation. Those concerned about how a judge’s opinion could affect their finances have another option available. It is not necessary to litigate property division or other divorce matters. Spouses always have the option of settling with one another.
Those with unusual marital circumstances or particularly valuable property may see the value in collaborative divorce or mediation to settle property division disease outside of court. Those who reach their own agreements can maintain complete control over the process of dividing their assets rather than waiting to hear what a judge and thinks would be best.
Learning more about the laws that govern Texas divorces can help people to make informed decisions about how to approach major decisions at the end of a marriage.