My husband and I are getting divorced. I want to keep the lake house, but he says it’s his because it’s in his name, not mine. I think I co-signed the loan. What are the laws in Texas regarding property divisions during divorce?

Texas is a “community property” state.  Most likely, if the lake house was purchased during your marriage, it will be considered “community property” by the court in Texas.  However, we would need more information from you before our divorce attorneys could make an absolute determination.

Property possessed by either spouse during the dissolution of the marriage is presumed by the divorce court to be community property, unless the spouse can prove that it is their separate property by clear and convincing evidence.  The burden of proof of ownership of the lake house is on your husband who is claiming total ownership.  Community property consists of almost anything of value, such as real property, personal property, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, automobiles, retirement benefits, 401(k) accounts, IRA accounts, stock options, copyright royalties, patents, income, rental income, vacation homes, life insurance and virtually anything else of value.

Furthermore, when the courts in Texas have a couple before them with equal education and equal earning potential and when no children are involved, the divorce financial settlement is often split 50/50.

However, should the circumstances of the couple not be equal, the court may determine a different ratio is fair in distribution of the property.  Also, be aware that divorce and children can drastically alter the divorce agreement and distribution of wealth ratios. There have been extreme cases in which 90% of the property was awarded to one of the two parties.

Here are just a few of the factors the court may consider in making the determination for distribution:

  • the health of one of the spouses
  • the present earnings of the parties
  • the party raising the minor children of the marriage
  • separate property that a spouse may have (Usually this means property they owned prior to the marriage)
  • any inheritance that a spouse is likely to receive
  • the debts of the parties

Community and Separate Property

There are two types of property and debt that married spouses may have: 1) Community or 2) Separate.

Separate property is:

  • Anything owned before marriage and the appreciation or increase in value of that property
  • Inheritances or gifts (from others or from a spouse)
  • Personal injury damage awards (except for loss of earnings)
  • Property exchanged for other separate property

Community property is:

  • All property other than separate property acquired by either spouse during marriage (including wages)
  • Income, rent, or interest earned on separate property

Bottom Line: If this situation sounds like a carbon copy of your own, call LaFour Law today for a private consultation.  Let a LaFour Law divorce attorney who knows Texas divorce law make dividing marital property and debt equitable, less stressful, and more cost efficient for everyone.

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