In a Texas marriage, debts and assets are considered to be either 'separate' or 'community' property. If you are seeking a divorce, one of the first things your San Antonio divorce attorney will do is review all of your assets to determine which ones fall under which category.
Decisions determining who receives property depend on factors such as:
Other factors the court may consider include:
Community property is property acquired during marriage which is considered equally owned by both parties. This also includes any debt accumulated throughout the marriage.
Separate property is property that was owned by an individual before the marriage, inherited during the marriage, or received as a gift during the marriage. Personal injury proceeds are usually considered separate property, depending on the circumstances.
Partial community property is an asset that would have been defined as separate property at the beginning of the marriage, but that has become redefined as community property during the course of the marriage.
For example, if one spouse owned real estate prior to the marriage, it would constitute separate property. But if the mortgage on that property was paid during the marriage, then the other spouse might claim to have made an "economic contribution" to that property.
Additionally, if a renovation project on that property results in an increase in value, or the local real estate market appreciates, then an economic contribution claim may be argued by the other spouse. Speak to a San Antonio divorce lawyer for help with this process.
If there are any economic contribution claims, they could result in separate property being considered partial community property. When reviewing your estate, your San Antonio divorce attorney will investigate the potential for this sort of claim.
Once we've determined what constitutes community property, it's important to note that Texas is not a "50-50" state. In Texas, property is not simply split down the middle. Often, one side leaves the marriage with more than the other. Courts often award a disproportionate share of the parties' community estate to one spouse or the other.
When it comes to debt, you and your spouse may come to an agreement about how debts should be divided. If no mutual agreement can be reached, a judge can decide the case. The court will consider the same factors used to divide property when determining debt division.
However, no matter what the arrangement - even if it's made by the judge - division of debts will not have any effect on the actions of third-party creditors. In other words, if the judge orders one spouse to pay a credit card debt, but the credit card is held in the name of the other spouse, the credit card company can still come after either or both spouses for the outstanding debt obligation.
A San Antonio attorney can help you with this process.
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