Property Division Attorneys, Houston TX
In every divorce, the court has to divide property that was acquired during the marriage in a just and fair way. This does not always mean a 50-50 distribution. There are multiple factors that affect how the property is divided during a divorce including fault, waste, fraud, and violence to name just a few.
Most states require a ‘cooling-off' period. In Texas, this period is 60 days. This means that, once a formal petition for divorce is filed, the case cannot be completely finalized until the 61st day it has been on file. Additionally, Texas has certain residential requirements that must be met before someone can file for divorce. At least one party must be a resident of the state of Texas for at least 6 months, and a resident of that particular county for 90 days before a petition for divorce can be filed.
Texas is a community property state, meaning that any property acquired as during the marriage is considered community property. The presumption in Texas is that all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property. Any spouse asserting that a piece of it property is their separate property must prove it is by clear and convincing evidence which is a heightened standard. Because there is no legal separation in Texas, any property the parties earn up until the date of divorce is presumed to be community property.
Process of Dividing Property in a Divorce
The first step parties must take is to first identify every piece of property whether community or separate. A detailed inventory and appraisement is necessary to assist the court in dividing the property. A value is assigned to each item of property. Depending on the asset, this could be quite a task. Valuing real property for example often requires the expertise of a real property appraiser. Determining the value of a business might need the assistance of a forensic accountant or business appraiser.More often than not, an expert may be required to value property.
Factors Affecting Division of Property
Texas courts are required to divide property in a manner that is just and right. The court looks at multiple factors in deciding what would be just and right, including the earnings potential of each party, the education, and training of the spouses, the age and health of the respective spouses, the value of the separate property each spouse has, and fault leading to the break-up of the marriage. This means that courts might award one spouse a slightly higher percentage of the estate than the other, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. One spouse might also be entitled to a reimbursement, particularly if they used their separate property to increase the value of the community estate. This is commonly seen when one spouse uses their inheritance to renovate or extend the home.
How We Can Help
Determining the value of property and how it should be divided in the event of a divorce is a critical process which can feel overwhelming. Our team can handle all kinds of divorces, from simple estates to complex matters. We will provide guidance and advice through every step.