Property Division Lawyer in Lake Jackson
Results-Driven and Effective Legal Guidance
JM Davis Law PLLC is a results-driven law firm helping spouses through divorce-related negotiation like property division. Our firm provides effective and compassionate legal guidance as we walk our clients through the negotiation process, especially when they are handling matters as serious and complex as property division. JM Davis Law PLLC can help you strategize an efficient agreement for splitting your property with your spouse in Texas.
Community Property Laws in Texas
Texas operates under community property rules, which treats all income earned and property acquired (including debts) by either spouse during the marriage as community property belonging equally to both spouses. As such, Texas courts must divide all marital property equally between divorcing spouses. However, in certain cases the court may order an unequal division if they find just reasons to do so.
When beginning the property division process, the court will presume that all property held by either spouse during the marriage is community property. A spouse who seeks to withhold an asset from division must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the asset is separate property. Separate property refers to anything that belonged to one spouse before marriage and was kept separate throughout the marriage. This could include income from separate property, property that was given only to one spouse during the marriage, such as a gift made by a friend or family member to the spouse alone, or an inheritance that a spouse received from a relative. Note that if a spouse receives money from a lawsuit or settlement due to personal injuries, that money remains the separate property of the injured spouse, unless it includes money compensating for the loss of earning capacity during marriage.
The most common types of property divided in divorce are:
- real property (e.g., the family home);
- personal property (e.g., jewelry and furniture); and
- intangible property (e.g., income, dividends, benefits).
As mentioned above, the court has the discretion to distribute the community property in whatever way it deems to be fair. To determine what is fair, or what may be subject to adjustment, the court will consider the following factors:
- the spouses’ education, ages, and health, as well as their respective earning capacities, skills, and business opportunities;
- whether a spouse is a primary caregiver for the couple's children;
- the amount of separate property each spouse owns; and
- whether one spouse was at fault for the failure of the marriage.
The divorcing spouses may decide between themselves on how to split the community property. For example, they may submit a marital settlement agreement to the court for approval that outlines how they have agreed to split the family home. However, if they cannot reach an agreement on their own, or if there are specific items of property that the spouses cannot agree on, the court will decide for them.
Dividing Retirement Accounts
One important and often confusing type of property to be divided in divorce is retirement accounts, such as 401(k) and pension benefits, that either spouse earned or contributed to during the marriage. Retirement accounts are generally considered to be community property and will thus be divided.
During a divorce, the court will evaluate each spouse's retirement accounts and determine how much of it belongs to the marital estate. Typically, a spouse's pre-marital contributions will remain separate property, and only the marital portions (contributions made during the marriage) will be subject to division as community property. Once the court categorizes the accounts into community and separate property, it will then value and split the accounts according to the state's community property guidelines.
Let Us Help You
If you are in the process of divorcing your spouse and are facing the legal question of property division, speak to an experienced property division attorney immediately for legal guidance. The attorneys at JM Davis Law PLLC have years of experience handling spousal issues like property division, and our firm can take a closer look at your situation to determine what may be considered your separate property, what may be divided as community property, and how you may negotiate an agreement with your spouse.
Contact JM Davis Law PLLC today for a FREE consultation!