Only nine states in the nation use a “common law” form of property ownership known as community property. In a community property state, all property acquired during a marriage is presumed by law to be jointly owned unless proven otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.
Texas is one of the nine community property states in the United States, and it is incredibly common for disputes to arise as to whether certain types of items are considered separate property, community property, or high net worth property. Clear and convincing evidence is defined under Texas Family Code § 101.007 as “the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.”
If you are attempting to divide marital property as part of your divorce in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation. Our experienced divorce attorneys in Houston can preserve your property rights and work to help you achieve the most favorable possible resolution to your case. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (832) 530-4070 to set up a free initial consultation.
Overview of Division of Property in Harris County
- Property Division Laws in Texas
- Types of Property Division in Texas
- Property Division Resources in Harris County
Division of Property Laws in Texas
In divorce proceedings, the court will divide property under certain rules. Texas Family Code § 7.001 states, “In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.” There are two main types of property to consider in a divorce; separate and community property. Under Texas Family Code § 3.001, a spouse’s separate property consists of:
- The property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage;
- The property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent; and
- The recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.
Where each spouse generally gets to keep their separate property, community property is divided when a marriage is dissolved. Texas Family Code § 3.003(a) establishes that property possessed by either spouse during or upon the dissolution of marriage is presumed to be community property. Under Texas Family Code § 7.002(a), a court must order a division of the following real and personal property, wherever situated, in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage:
- Property that was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and that would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state at the time of the acquisition; or
- Property that was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition.
Texas Family Code § 7.002(b) provides that the court will award property that was acquired by the spouse while domiciled in another state and that would have been the spouse’s separate property if the spouse had been domiciled in this state at the time of acquisition, or property that was acquired by the spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that would have been the spouse’s separate property if the spouse had been domiciled in this state at the time of acquisition to a spouse the following real and personal property, wherever situated, as the separate property of the spouse in a decree of divorce or annulment. Under Texas Family Code § 7.002(c), a court can confirm the following as the separate property of a spouse if partitioned or exchanged by written agreement of the spouses:
- Income and earnings from the spouses’ property, wages, salaries, and other forms of compensation received on or after January 1 of the year in which the suit for dissolution of marriage was filed; or
- Income and earnings from the spouses’ property, wages, salaries, and other forms of compensation received in another year during which the spouses were married for any part of the year.
Types of Division of Property in Texas
Division of property disputes can become complicated because various forms of property may have elements of community property and separate property. In such cases, certain forms of disputed property may be of considerable value and have significant effects on a spouse’s future.
The Gonzalez Law Group has experience with property division involving such assets as:
- Bank accounts;
- Retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, deferred compensation) and pensions;
- Commercial real estate;
- Residential, commercial, and vacation property;
- Farms, ranches, and livestock;
- Stocks, bonds, securities, and investments;
- International assets;
- Offshore investments and assets;
- Motor vehicles;
- Bonuses, commissions, and deferred compensation;
- Asset protection trusts and devices;
- Business ownership rights;
- Closely held corporations;
- Investment property;
- Military pensions;
- Professional practices and partnerships;
- Royalties and dividends; and
- Separate property inheritances.
Division of Property Resources in Harris County
Texas Family Code | Chapter 7. Award of Marital Property — View the general rule of property division in Texas and learn more about division and disposition of certain property under special circumstances. You can also find statutes for disposition of retirement and employment benefits and other plans, disposition of rights in insurance, and disposition of claim for reimbursement. Marital property rights and liabilities are covered under Chapter 3 of the Family Code.
Texas Constitution | Article 16, Section 15 — View the full text of the section of the Texas Constitution relating to separate and community property. The section states that all property, both real and personal, of a spouse owned or claimed before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent, is the separate property of that spouse. The section also calls for laws to be passed more clearly defining the rights of the spouses, in relation to separate and community property.
Contact a Division of Property Attorneys in Houston, TX
Are you attempting to divide property as part of your divorce in Harris County? Make sure you contact The Gonzalez Law Group as soon as possible for assistance with any property that may be subject to dispute. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit an online contact form to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.