There are only nine (9) community property states in the United States. In a community property state, you and your spouse share all assets and debts equally. This means, if you end up getting divorced, you’ll split these debts and assets equally.
In a community property state, it doesn’t matter who purchased the property. Nor does it matter who accumulated the debt. Both spouses are equally entitled to share in (or owe) the property.
Community property includes all property that is acquired during the marriage. This is true for both legal marriages and informal marriages (common law marriage.) The only property it doesn’t include is property the parties owned prior to getting married.
Because Texas is a community property state, if you get divorced, you will be forced to share your asset with your spouse. Your Houston divorce attorney will make sure that all assets and debts are shared equally.
What Assets are Considered Community Property in Texas?
Almost all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property for purposes of equitable distribution. There are exceptions, of course. Thankfully, your divorce attorney in Houston is aware of the rules regarding community property.
The following assets are considered to be community property:
- All income earned and received during the course of the marriage. By extension, this would include any income invested during the marriage. This includes 401K, pension, and investments.
- Any real property purchased during the marriage. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the deed or mortgage. If the property was bought during the marriage, it’s owned by both spouses equally.
- Any art, jewelry and other valuables.
- Any debts acquired during the marriage. Even if a credit card was opened and used by only one spouse, it may be considered community property.
If you and your spouse acquire property during the marriage, you can expect to divide that property in the event of a divorce. Your Houston family law attorney will help determine which assets and debts are indeed community property.
What Assets are Not Considered Community Property?
As we said earlier, there are certain assets that aren’t considered community property. For the most part, these are assets that were intentionally meant to belong to one spouse or the other.
It’s not always so easy determining which assets are not community property in Texas. There are certain things, however, that are almost always excluded from community property. These items include:
- All property owned by a spouse before they got married
- Property acquired by one spouse after they got separated
- All property that was received by gift or inheritance. It’s important that this property wasn’t included in a joint bank account or comingled in any other way.
It’s important to understand that these assets can become community property. It depends on how it’s treated during the marriage.
For example, let’s say you inherit a house from your grandmother. You sell the house for $250,000. You then buy a house for you and your husband to live in. You put both spouses name on the deed. You jointly pay the taxes and upkeep on the house. You both also spend money fixing up the house and decorating it. This property will probably be deemed community property.
On the other hand, had you taken the house and sold it for $250,000, you could’ve kept it separate. Had you put the money in a separate bank account in your name only, it wouldn’t necessarily become a community property asset.
What Happens if You Get Divorced?
When you get divorced, community property is split down the middle. Each spouse is entitled to 50% of the community property. Unless the parties can absolutely agree on how to split this property, the court has one solution: sell it!
In most cases, all community property is sold. The proceeds from the sale is then split between the spouses. Your Houston divorce attorney can negotiate with your spouse’s attorney to avoid this happening.
For example, if the house is worth $200,000, and the rest of the community property is worth a total of $200,000, you can work out a settlement. One spouse can choose to keep the house and give the rest of the property to the other spouse.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Houston Today
If you’ve decided to get a divorce, you’ll need to contact a divorce attorney in Houston right away. You want to make sure your spouse’s lawyer doesn’t take advantage of you. This is why you want an experienced lawyer by your side. Your lawyer can make sure you get your fair share of the community property.
Call Eddington & Worley today and schedule your initial consultation with a skilled divorce lawyer in Houston, Texas.