Division of AssetsLegal Support for Equitable Distribution of Assets
Equitable Distribution & Division of Assets in Divorce
When faced with divorce, it’s more than just the relationship that’s splitting: the property, assets and debts accumulated during the marriage must be divided. Most parties are able to reach an agreement on these issues without going to court, but it is important to work with an attorney who understands Texas property law, and can help you reach an agreement that leaves you in the most solid financial position possible when the divorce is through.
Most people assume that a judge will equally divide their property upon divorce, but the Texas Family Code actually instructs the judge to make a “just and right division” of the parties’ marital estate, with no reference to percentages. It is not uncommon for judges to divide the property disproportionately. The judge considers many factors in dividing the parties’ property, such as the length of marriage, employability and educational background of the spouses, and fault in the breakup of the marriage.
There are two types of property in a marriage: separate and community. Separate property is property that a spouse owned prior to marriage, or receives during the marriage by gift, devise or inheritance. Community property is property that the spouses acquire during the marriage, such as income from their respective jobs, or property they purchase during the marriage such as homes and automobiles. The judge only has the authority to divide community property, and is barred by law from divesting a spouse of his or her separate property.
Division of Debt
Most parties to a divorce have debt that has to be divided. Community debt is debt that the parties accumulate during the marriage, even if it’s just in one spouse’s name. As a general rule of thumb, the “debt follows the asset,” meaning if a spouse is awarded a piece of property that has debt associated with it, that spouse will also be awarded the debt. Judges have broad discretion in allocating debt, but usually try to do so in a way that is fair and maximizes the likelihood that the debt will be paid.