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Identify community property before going to divorce court

When couples in Texas consider divorce, they will probably be aware that Texas is one of the so-called community property states. It is, however, a myth that all assets of the couple will be immediately subject to a straight 50/50 division. Neither spouse will automatically be entitled to 50 percent of the combined assets of the couple, even in a community property state.

It is important to note that community property assets are those that were acquired and accumulated by the couple during their marriage. In contrast, assets that were obtained by one party before the marriage took place is known as separate property and will remain the property of that party. In cases where there is contention, it will be necessary for the party who claims the asset to prove ownership. If an asset was brought into the marriage by one spouse, but was improved by the other spouse during the marriage, the other spouse may claim reimbursement for the contribution to the increased value of the asset.

Regardless of whose name an asset is registered in, if it was obtained during the marriage, it is typically considered community property. The same is also true for payments received by each spouse as work-related remuneration or reimbursement during the marriage and includes future payments as retirement benefits. In preparation for a divorce, couples may want to record their separate assets and community property.

Texas family judges endeavor to provide fair division of community property in divorce cases. When couples find it difficult to agree on ownership of some assets, it may be necessary to trace them back to the date when they were acquired. If all contentious issues are agreed upon before going to court, unnecessary legal costs can be avoided, and each party may be able to move forward to a new life more quickly.

Source: chron.com, "Don't buy into myths when dividing marital assets in a divorce; Guide to Good Divorce seminar set May 3", , April 16, 2014

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