When couples in Texas decide to end their marriage, the division of property often becomes a central focus. Texas follows a community property system, which means that property the parties acquire during the marriage is generally community property and subject to equal division.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, and it is important to understand what could be separate property in a Texas divorce.
What is separate property?
Separate property in a Texas divorce includes assets and possessions not subject to division between the spouses. These assets remain the sole property of the individual spouse who owns them. However, it is important to keep these assets separate and not combine them with marital assets to maintain their separate status.
Keep detailed records and documentation showing the source and nature of separate property. In a Texas divorce, the burden of proof falls on the spouse claiming the property as separate. It is important to present clear and convincing evidence to support the claim.
Property acquired before marriage
Property acquired by one spouse before the marriage is generally separate property. This can include real estate, bank accounts, investments and personal possessions.
Inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage are typically separate property. The median value of owner-occupied housing units in Texas is $202,600. That is not an insignificant sum. If you inherit a house and take steps to keep it separate, your spouse may have no claim to it.
Gifts given to one spouse by a third party, such as family or friends, are usually separate property. The key is to demonstrate that the gift was for one spouse individually and not for the couple as a whole.
Personal injury awards
Compensation received by one spouse due to a personal injury claim is generally separate property. This applies as long as the compensation is for the injured spouse’s pain, suffering and medical expenses.
Property designated as separate
Spouses can also agree in writing that specific property is separate, even if it would otherwise be community property. A well-drafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can provide clear instructions.
Understanding what constitutes separate property in a Texas divorce helps ensure a fair and equitable division of assets.