When assessing the split of property during a divorce, it is important to understand the difference between “community” and “separate” property.
From the beginning of marriage, all money earned is owed by both parties till the separation date. All property acquired using community money is owned equally by husband and wife. Whomever makes the purchase during this time frame does not matter. When looking at debts, all debt accrued during marriage is also split between both parties as community debts. Community debts may include unpaid balances on credit cards, home mortgages and car loan balances. It goes without saying that it is recommended to cancel all bank accounts, credit cards and joint accounts after divorce.
Separate property is considered anything owned prior to marriage, inherited or received as a gift during marriage, or anything earned after the date of separation. When one party gives up any property to the other party in writing, the property is then classified as separate property. There are instances where separate property can become tied-in with community property. Either party may have to show evidence that documents payment paid via “separate” money instead of “community” money. Any debt incurred prior to marriage is considered separate debt, meaning it stays only with the original party who accrued it. Examples of separate debt include student loans, job training loans, or even adult education course debts. If one person covers the down payment on a car, and then pays off the car with community money after marriage, the original down payment will be paid back because it is considered separate property.
Dividing the Property
In some states, the parties’ community property has to be divided “equally.” That does not mean that each item of community property has to be divided equally, but the distribution has to be nearly equal division of the total value of the community property. Many community property states, allow the court to make an “equitable” division of community property that is “fair” to both spouses. In these states, the courts will consider various factors when making the division, such as each spouse’s current income and future earning potential. Some states will consider a spouse’s fault in causing the divorce or fraud in dealing with the parties’ property or assets during the marriage lifespan. Sometimes the “community” property tag is automatically put on most assets in the divorce, and each party must provide documented evidence of its “separate” value.
The Bottom Line
If you’re going through a divorce in Houston, Texas, and you have a spider web of properties and assets at stake, you need an experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer from LaFour Law to work directly with you and provide the legal representation that’s necessary to ensure an outcome in line with your best interests. Please call LaFour Law today at 713.223.7700 or reach us at www.lafourlaw.com.