Illustration of couples pulling house apart representing property division.

Fort Worth Property Division Lawyer: Debunking the Myth of a 50/50 Split in Texas Divorces. {With FAQs}

Divorce is a challenging process, often filled with uncertainties and emotional turmoil. One common misconception among divorcing couples in Texas is that all assets are automatically split 50/50. The automatic 50/50 split is a myth! The reality is far more complex. Understanding the nuances of property division in Texas is crucial for individuals going through a divorce. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the topic of Texas divorce property division and shed light on the misconceptions surrounding a 50/50 split.

Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer Reveals: The Truth About Property Division in Texas Divorces

Have you ever wondered if assets are always divided equally in a Texas divorce? The answer is both yes and no. While Texas is a community property state, generally suggesting an equal division of marital property, the courts consider various factors to determine a “just and right” division. The Texas Family Code does not use the word “fair” when discussing the division of the marital estate. 

Clients often discuss their idea of a “fair” property division. The other spouse will have their vision of a “fair .” That is why the Court examines evidence and testimony about the marriage and circumstances. The Court wants to order a just and right division for the respective spouses based on the facts. 

Since both spouses are embarking on a newly single life after the divorce, perhaps the “fair” thing to do is start them off with 50% of the marital estate. But would 50% to each spouse be just under the facts of the marriage? If one spouse severely mistreated the other during the marriage, would a 50% share be right? The law requires a “just and right” division, not merely a “fair” split. 

The Court examines numerous family and marriage factors to get to a just and right division. Understanding these factors is essential for anyone going through a divorce in Texas. That’s why it’s important to work with a skilled Fort Worth family law attorney who can ensure that your side is heard and guide you through the entire process. 

Factors That Influence Property Division 

When it comes to dividing marital property in a Texas divorce, the courts take into account several key factors. These factors include:

1. Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage plays a significant role in property division. Longer marriages tend to result in a more equitable distribution of assets. Shorter marriages tend to be characterized by volatility or severe dissatisfaction. The typical result is that less estate has been accumulated, and the spouses’ behavior influences the Court. 
2. Financial Contributions: The court considers the financial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage. This includes income earned, investments made, and other monetary contributions. Note that the Court also considers the contribution of a stay-at-home spouse who makes it possible for the working spouse to succeed in their career. Without the contributions of the stay-at-home spouse, the working spouse would not have earned at the same rate. Therefore, the stay-at-home spouse’s contributions affect the just and right property division.
3. Separate Property: Property owned by each spouse before the marriage or acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gifts is considered separate property and may not be subject to division. The Court considers how the spouses’ separate property will affect the spouses after the divorce. For example, suppose a spouse owns significant inherited money. In that case, a legal claim for post-divorce financial maintenance by that spouse is less relevant to the Court.   
4. Custody Arrangements: If children are involved, the court considers the child’s best interests when determining property division. The custodial parent may receive a more favorable distribution to ensure stability for the children. However, what one spouse considers favorable may not affect the other spouse negatively. Suppose a spouse is awarded the marital home because the children will continue to reside there with that spouse. The other spouse may receive a larger share of a retirement asset to offset the home’s value awarded to the other spouse.  
5. Behavior of the Spouses: if a spouse was cruel or abusive during the marriage, the Court might deem it both “just” and “right” to award the abused spouse a disproportionate share of the estate. Likewise, suppose a spouse wasted community property by spending significant money on a paramour. In that case, the Court may award the cheating spouse a smaller share of the assets. 
6. Needs of the Spouses: The Court may order a property division that helps account for a significant disparity in earning potential of the spouses. A prominent example of this circumstance is when a stay-at-home spouse must rejoin the workforce to provide income to live but needs time to get an education or training in a new career field. In such a case, the Court may award the spouse a larger share of the couple’s liquid assets. Alternatively, the Court might order the working spouse to pay the stay-at-home spouse spousal maintenance payments for a few years. The payments are designed to help the stay-at-home spouse time to become self-sufficient. 
7. Other Factors the Court Finds Important: Savvy family lawyers persuade the Court to divide the marital property according to their client’s priorities. At trial, the lawyers will attempt to raise the issues and facts that benefit their clients. Because each client’s goals are unique, and the facts of each marriage relationship differ, the trial strategy developed by each lawyer will also be different. For this reason, the Court will hear and consider any relevant factor introduced by the lawyers.     

A Story of Property Division 

To illustrate the complexities of property division in a Texas divorce, let’s consider the case of Sarah and Mark. Sarah was a successful businesswoman, while Mark was a stay-at-home parent. During their ten-year marriage, Sarah’s income was the family’s primary source of financial support. Despite the misconception of a 50/50 split, the court considered the economic contributions of the spouses throughout the marriage. 

The Court recognized Mark’s contributions as a stay-at-home spouse. At trial, the Court heard testimony that Sarah often worked 12-hour days at her job. At the same time, Mark prepared food for the children, home-schooled the children, prepared the family’s meals, and maintained the household. The Court awarded the marital home to Mark so the children could continue to reside there. However, the Court awarded Sarah a larger share of her 401(k) to offset her equity in the marital home.  

There was no 50/50 split of the assets in the marital estate. Merely splitting each asset down the middle might have been “fair,” but then the home would have had to be sold, and neither spouse would get the residence for the children. There is much more to a “just and right” division than a simple 50/50 split. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Property Division in Texas Divorce 

Is a 50/50 split possible in Texas? 

While a 50/50 split is not guaranteed, it can occur if the court deems it fair and just based on the circumstances of the case. Remember, dividing the estate as a whole is often advantageous rather than dividing each asset. Dividing the estate as a whole allows the Court the flexibility to award complete, undivided assets to the spouses.   

What happens to debt in a divorce? 

Just as assets are divided, debts are also allocated between the parties. However, the typical allocation of debt is more nuanced than simply dividing the debt 50/50. Usually, the specific debts awarded to a spouse are determined based on which spouse is contractually liable for the debt. 

For example, suppose a spouse has a Visa card solely in his name. That spouse will be awarded his Visa card and all debt associated with that account since the other spouse has no obligation to Visa to pay that debt. However, suppose the Court believes it would not be “just and right” to award the debt to the spouse under the circumstances. In that case, the Court might give the spouse a larger share of an asset in the divorce to offset some of the Visa debt.  

How can I protect my separate property? 

Maintaining proper documentation and separating your assets from marital assets is crucial. Sadly, many separate property assets have been divided by the Courts in divorces because the spouse who owned the assets comingled them with community property. For example, depositing inherited money into the couple’s joint checking account can spell doom for a claim of separate property for the inheritance. 

Similarly, adding a spouse to the deed of an inherited tract of real estate is seen as a gift to the spouse. Keeping separate property segregated from community property during the marriage is the safest way to ensure the property is correctly allocated in the divorce. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also protect separate property.

Seeking Professional Guidance for Your Divorce Case 

Navigating the complex terrain of property division in a Texas divorce can be overwhelming. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights and secure a fair division of assets. Youngblood Law, PLLC focuses on family law matters, including divorce and property division. We build our legal strategy for each client based on the client’s priorities. Our dedicated team is ready to guide you through the process and ensure your best interests are protected.

Conclusion 

Understanding the complexities of property division is essential for anyone going through a divorce. Property division in a Texas divorce is far from a simple 50/50 split. By considering various factors such as the length of the marriage, financial contributions, separate property, custody arrangements, and more, the courts strive to achieve a “just and right” distribution of assets. However, presenting the evidence and testimony necessary to persuade the Court to divide the marital property favorably requires a skilled Fort Worth divorce lawyer. Our team at Youngblood Law knows how to present your case to the Court to protect your share of the marital estate. 

Securing your future after the divorce begins with protecting your share of the marital property. Our experienced attorneys are ready to advocate for your rights and guide you through the complexities of divorce and property division in Texas. If you are facing divorce, contact Youngblood Law, PLLC, today.

Contact a Skilled Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer

Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas law firm dedicated to family law.  We help good people trapped in bad relationships find the freedom to pursue their new happily ever after.  We also proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients.   This essay is intended for educational use only and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel.  If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC.  For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345 or on the web at www.youngblood-law.com.

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