Property Division in Texas Isn’t Always Equal

In a Texas divorce, assets are meant to be split equally. Each spouse should walk away with 50% of the marital assets.

Marital, or community, assets include anything purchased during the marriage. It doesn’t matter who used it or had any interest in it. If you bought a new Playstation 5, and your spouse never touches it, that’s still a marital asset. They may have a vinyl collection that you don’t care about, but any record they bought during the marriage is still community property.

Money is easy enough to divide. The courts can look at how much money and debt exists in the marriage and split it 50/50. Physical assets, on the other hand, are more difficult to distribute. Let’s look at your new video game system. Imagine it costs $500. On one hand, you’re the only one who uses it, so it should probably go to you. Now we have a problem. You owe your spouse $250 for the machine.

Courts look at situations like these and must decide how to manage them. There are a few options. You could simply pay your spouse $250, half the value of the item, and move on. Perhaps there is physical property in the marriage that reaches this value. The ring you bought them, for instance, costs $250, so they are allowed to keep it. In some cases, the courts could demand that you sell the property and split the earnings among the two parties.

This is how a Texas asset split works ostensibly. However, there is a caveat. Texan judges have room to split assets based on what they deem “just and right.”

Just and Right

Although Texas is considered an equal, community property division state, there is a loophole in the law. Judges can decide that a 50/50 split is unfair and adjust property division accordingly.

Essentially, this makes Texas an equitable division state. People often confuse the terms “equality” and “equity.” Equality means that everyone has the right to something, and equity refers to making something fair. For example, consider handicapped parking. Everyone has an equal opportunity to use any other parking spot. However, as a society, we have decided that it is fairer to provide premium, close parking to those with physical disabilities.

Consider, then, how this ideology affects property division in a divorce. It’s no secret that divorces can get ugly. People start to fight for what they believe they are owed, and accusations can fly. Your spouse could convince the court that you were somehow abusive. In the interest of fairness, the judge can award them more than the standard 50%.

If you cannot agree on how to end the marriage, and court is necessary, make sure you have a good legal team on your side. You need someone who can defend against trumped-up accusations. It also helps if they can remind the court that assets are meant to be split equally, keeping everyone on task.

Spousal Support

Uses appropriately, spousal support is a good thing. Even in our modern times, financial disparity often exists within a marriage. Even with all property split evenly, one party could be left with little to support themselves. A system that helps them become self-sustaining benefits everyone. In fact, Texas spousal support is built on this theory. It is sometimes called rehabilitative support, as its purpose is to get the supported party back on their feet.

It is meant to apply only to marriages that lasted 10 years or longer, and support has times limits based on the length of the marriage:

  • Five years of spousal support for a marriage of 10 to 20 years.
  • Seven years of spousal support for a marriage of 20 to 30 years.
  • Ten years of spousal support for a marriage longer than 30 years.

Like property division, however, courts can use spousal support to punish someone. Even if the marriage lasted less than 10 years, the court can order support if it finds you guilty of abuse. Within the “10 years or longer” system, the assets divide evenly, but if the court believes that wronged your spouse, it can order a greater percent of spousal support than normal. This could be a way of bypassing the “just and right” standard, still forcing you to pay more than your fair share. You should seek good legal counsel to protect you from false, exaggerated claims, keeping everything balanced in a divorce.

Try to Make These Decisions Yourselves

Ultimately, you still have the right to work out property and support agreements with your spouse, bypassing court orders. You could consult a mediator who can help you communicate and come to agreements on such matters. However, if you cannot work with your spouse, and the matter must go to court, then you need a good lawyer who can help protect your hard-earned property.

For help with your divorce, trust our firm. With years of experience, we can help show the courts that an equal property division is fair enough. For a free consultation, contact us online, or call (281) 990-6025.

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