Guiding Families Through Dividing Their Property And Assets
An attorney specializing in family law knows that a hostile divorce is hard on the entire family, especially the children. Property division can be one of the most contentious topics during a divorce. As such, ensuring that the marital property is divided fairly can help ease tensions and make the process smoother for everyone.
If you are a parent looking to protect your child’s best interests during the asset division process, look no further than the divorce attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates. Our property division lawyers in Houston and Austin can protect your children during this process by fighting for a fair split of your assets that would allow you to provide a safe and stable home for them.
Defining ‘Just And Right’ Regarding Asset Division
Family courts divide property based on what the court determines to be “just and right.” This means that the circumstances of the divorce can impact whether the property is split equally between the partners.
If, for example, one partner was unfaithful or wronged the other and that caused the marriage to end, the innocent spouse might receive a greater portion of the assets. Alternatively, if one parent’s income or earning capacity is significantly higher than the other’s, the lower-earning party may get more of the assets. If the divorcing parties can agree on asset distribution, the court will generally approve the agreement. Our Houston attorneys can help parents understand their rights and come to agreeable terms that protect their child’s well-being during the property division process.
How Texas Courts Divide Property
A court will divide a couple’s property based on whether each asset was shared or obtained before the marriage began. According to Texas Family Code §3.001, community property is any asset that the spouses obtained together during the marriage. This property is owned by both partners regardless of whose name is on it.
Community property must be divided equitably during a divorce, which does not necessarily mean that both parties will get an equal share. In some instances, one parent may receive more than the other, but the factors that determine this depend on each person’s situation.
Alternatively, separate property belongs to only one spouse. This property is often that which was owned before the marriage took place or acquired as a gift, inheritance or settlement of some kind. During a divorce, neither party has a claim to the other’s separate property. Our attorneys can determine which types of property may be subject to division during this process.
Frequently Asked Questions We Receive On Property Division
As one of the most contested parts of the divorce process, property and asset division is understandably something that many of our clients have questions about. Below are some responses to a few of the most common questions we receive.
How does the court address the division of debt?
Debt distribution works similarly to asset division, as it is divided based on whom it belongs to. With shared debt, the court might order one spouse to pay more than the other, especially if they have a higher income or obtained a greater percentage of the overall marital estate. Other factors that may impact the division of debt include custody and child support obligations.
How are retirement assets divided in a divorce?
Retirement assets or benefits can include 401(k) accounts, pensions, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and other forms of retirement savings. Abiding by the terms of community property, courts consider contributions made to retirement accounts during the marriage to be community property and contributions made before the marriage to be separate property. This is true regardless of whose name is listed on the account. Dividing these assets typically requires a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which will then provide the employer with specific instructions on how to divide the benefits.
How might a prenup impact the property division process?
A valid premarital or prenuptial agreement (prenup) can have a significant impact on the property division process. If you and your spouse clearly laid out terms for the division of property and assets, the process may be simplified and each spouse’s rights to their property may be safeguarded. Prenups can only address certain elements of property division and have strict rules regarding validity and enforceability. Our attorneys can advise you whether you are considering a prenup or are facing divorce with a premarital agreement in place.
Will you be able to stay in the marital home?
If the marital home is considered to be community property, you likely have a few options to stay in the home. Both spouses can agree that one spouse will stay in the home and retain all associated debt, one spouse can stay in the home and give the other half of the home’s equity to the other spouse, or the spouse not keeping the home can retain other valuable assets in place of the home.
If you wish to stay in the home, it is important to consider your options financially both during and after the divorce. Will you be able to keep up with not only mortgage payments but also all other financial obligations that come along with the house? Our lawyers can advise on the best course of action for your circumstances.
How will divorce impact your business?
Courts regard businesses like other property in divorce. If you formed the business prior to the marriage and own it, the court will likely consider it to be separate property. If you formed the business during the marriage and both spouses have contributed to it, the court will likely consider it to be community property. It is critical to obtain a thorough and accurate valuation of your business leading up to the divorce. If the business must be “divided” between spouses, this will provide you with options to potentially pay your spouse their share of the business.
Seek The Counsel Of An Experienced Divorce Attorney
During the property distribution process, the court’s decisions are based on what it feels is best for both parties and their children. However, this might not be what you think is best, which can result in additional frustration. Fortunately, a property division lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of asset distribution and help you fight for what is best for your family. Reach out to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today. Call our Houston office at 713-714-3710 or send us an email.