Texas is a community property state, meaning that assets gained after marriage are equally owned by both parties. This fact does not mean that all property is divided equally in the event of a separation. The judge is endowed with the responsibility to determine a “just and right” marital property division. In Houston courts, judges take many factors into account when allocating community property.
The way property is divided is heavily influenced by a partner’s behavior. If a spouse has essentially instigated the divorce (e.g. by committing adultery, abusing the partner, etc.), then the “innocent” spouse will generally be awarded a disproportionate amount of the property.
The assessment of fault can also be applied to future assets. If the innocent spouse may lose valuable benefits that he/she would have received if the marriage had continued, the spouse may be entitled to some of those benefits.
Division of property may be affected by disparities between the spouses’ earning capabilities and income.
Age and Health Condition
Illness, bad health, and debilitating physical conditions in a spouse are heavily weighed in property division settlements. Age disparity is also a major factor because it influences ability to work, earning capacity, access to retirement benefits, etc.
Size of Separate and Community Estates
Generally, the larger the community estate, the more the courts lean toward a 50-50 division settlement. The extent and value of separate estates is also an important factor to the courts.
If a gift to a spouse is bought with community property, it becomes separate property in the event of a divorce. Gifts can be used as grounds for the unequal division of property if a spouse uses community property to buy a gift for a third party or a lover.
Spousal Support Obligations
Payment or failure to pay alimony during divorce proceedings is also taken into consideration by the courts.
Misuse of Community Property
The improper use of community property, resulting in losses, can severely affect the division of property.
It should also be noted that the court can exercise direct control over the division of properties in other geographical regions outside of the Texas court’s jurisdiction. Child custody is also a major consideration in marital property division proceedings. A spouse may also be compensated for the expense of divorce litigation and attorney costs.
There is simply no strict rules guiding marital property division in Houston. For this reason, you need an experienced Houston divorce attorney who can properly defend your assets and ensure that you get all that you deserve. Follow the Law Office of Ashley J. Scott @AJSFamilyLaw to learn more about divorce in Texas.