Asset Division Attorney in Mansfield, Texas
So your marriage didn’t work out the way you thought it would, and now you’re considering filing for divorce or have already begun the divorce process. Although this is undoubtedly hard, know that you’re not alone and there are resources to help you.
Working with a reputable family law attorney can help tremendously to learn about your options and help you tackle some of the more difficult decisions, most notably asset division which can be complicated. If you’re in the Mansfield, Texas area or anywhere in Tarrant County or Dallas-Fort Worth, reach out to the Law Office of Michael Muñoz for trusted legal guidance.
Community Property vs. Separate Property in Texas
Anytime a couple goes through a separation and considers all the assets they’ve accumulated over the course of their relationship, it’s common to ask, “Who gets what in a divorce?” While the answer to this question will be different for each family, one helpful way to approach it is to understand the difference between community property and separate property:
- Community property: Community property (also referred to as “marital property”) is a legal term used to describe any assets or debt that were acquired during the marriage and up until the divorce. In Texas, and in most states, the law doesn’t differentiate between which spouse acquired or purchased the asset and simply considers it to be owned equally by both partners. For example, if the couple purchased a home together but only one partner’s name is on the deed, the house is still considered jointly owned by the couple.
- Separate property: In contrast to marital property is separate property. Essentially, this refers to any assets that were acquired before the marriage or any assets that were specifically called out as belonging to only one partner (typically, this is done through a prenuptial agreement). Some assets will still be considered “separate” even if they were technically acquired during the marriage. For example, assets that have been inherited or received as a gift may be excluded from the “marital property” designation, including any settlements received from an injury lawsuit. There are also some gray areas that you should speak to a lawyer about. For instance, if one spouse owned a home before the marriage, but then the couple moved into the house together, and both spouses contributed equally, the house may be classified as community property.
Who Determines How Assets Are Divided?
Deciding on division of property can be a complex issue for many couples going through a divorce. In general, there are two separate approaches: an uncontested and a contested divorce:
- Uncontested: If the two partners can agree on how to divide their assets, they can document this in a marital dissolution agreement, and in most cases, a judge will sign off on it. If you’re on decent speaking terms with your spouse, an uncontested divorce is worth pursuing since it will typically save you time and money. Though the courts won’t be involved with how the assets are actually divided, you may still wish to work with a family law attorney to ensure your best interests are being represented.
- Contested: In a contested divorce, the couple cannot come to an agreement on one or more issues and will need to turn to the courts to make a determination. This almost always means your divorce will take longer and be more costly, but in some circumstances, it can’t be avoided. This is especially true if you aren’t on good speaking terms with your spouse or feel they’re hiding assets or being dishonest about some aspect of the property division.
Factors Considered in Asset Division Texas
When a judge evaluates your case, they’ll examine all the evidence that’s been presented and listen to the arguments made by each spouse or their lawyer. Texas courts follow a model that works to achieve an equitable distribution of assets, but not necessarily an equal distribution. To do this, a judge will consider a number of factors, including:
- The needs of each spouse
- Whether the couple has any children and who will have custody
- The health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s ability to provide for themselves after the divorce (ie., their job prospects or current employment status)
- Which spouse originally acquired the asset
- How much each spouse contributed to the marital property, including non-economic contributions such as child-rearing
- In some cases, a judge may consider the reason for the divorce and whether one spouse was “at fault”
- The education level of each spouse
Once the judge makes their decision, it is legally binding, and both spouses must cooperate fully with the determination.
Asset Division Attorney Serving Mansfield, Texas
If you’re going through a divorce and have questions or concerns about how to divide assets, contact the Law Office of Michael Muñoz in Mansfield, Texas, to speak with an experienced attorney. A dependable lawyer can analyze your situation while catering to your best interests.
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