Property Division Lawyer Helping Divorcing Couples Divide Marital Property in Tarrant County, Texas
In a divorce, who gets what can be a question that causes a lot of conflicts. Deciding what the marital property is and isn’t can be complicated, and figuring out how to divide it in a way that is fair to both parties can be even more difficult. You have worked hard to build up your assets as a couple, and you probably have not made equal contributions at all times. A division that takes into account the contributions of each party, whether in paid or unpaid work or family care, is the goal of negotiating a property division agreement. Fair and equal are not always the same thing, and this can cause difficulties in matters of property division.
If the couple cannot come to an agreement about the division of their assets, the courts will have to step in. This is never ideal, and board-certified family law lawyer Attorney Anita K. Cutrer will bring all of her 20-plus years of experience to helping you work out a mutually acceptable agreement without turning to the court system. Should this prove impossible, however, Ms. Cutrer is fully prepared to represent your interests in court and fight for the most favorable outcome possible.
Contact Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, today at (817) 813-8513 to get started moving toward a resolution of your property division questions.
What Assets are Considered Marital Assets and Liabilities in Texas?
Texas is a community property state, which means that any property acquired during the marriage is assumed to be the shared property of both spouses, whether or not both are listed as owners of the asset. This includes things like the family home, retirement accounts you contributed to during the marriage, bank accounts, investments made during the marriage, and personal possessions.
On the other hand, assets that were owned solely by one spouse before the marriage and that still list only the one spouse as the owner are considered separate assets, not subject to property division. Any value gained on a separate asset during the marriage may be considered community property, however. For example, if one spouse came into the marriage with an investment account balance of $100,000 owned solely in their name, and that investment had grown to $200,000 during the marriage while still in only the original spouse’s name, the initial $100,000 would not be considered marital property, but the $100,000 in gains that occurred during the marriage would be. If, however, the original owner of the investment account mixed it with investments that were jointly held, the full amount would be subject to the division of property in a divorce. Gifts to just one spouse, inheritances, and legal settlements remain the sole property of the one spouse they were given to unless they are mixed with marital assets. For example, if you inherit money from a family member and keep it in a separate account in your name only, that money is a separate asset not subject to division in divorce. If you deposit it into a bank account held jointly with your spouse, however, the inheritance becomes marital property.
Similarly, any debts or liabilities incurred during the marriage, even if only signed on to by one spouse, are considered marital liabilities. Just as is the case with assets, any liabilities that one spouse brought into the marriage and never changed or mixed with marital liabilities would not accrue to the other spouse. For example, if one spouse came into the marriage with a lot of student loan debt that they never refinanced or consolidated during the marriage, that debt would remain the sole responsibility of that spouse. If, however, the student loans were refinanced or consolidated during the marriage, then those loans would become marital liabilities that would be shared between the two spouses.
What Factors Does the Court Consider in Property Division Decisions?
While the aim of a property division order or agreement is to be fair to both spouses, Texas courts have held that a “just and right” division of community assets is not necessarily an equal, fifty-fifty split of the marital property. Some of the factors that may be considered by the court in dividing marital property in a divorce include each party:
- physical and mental health
- earning capacity, now and in the future
- skills and abilities
- financial condition
- education level
In addition, if the divorce is filed on the grounds of the fault of one party, the court may consider what benefits the not-at-fault party would have enjoyed had the at-fault party not misbehaved and the marriage had continued.
What if My Spouse is Intentionally Wasting Money to Keep it From Me in Our Divorce?
Unfortunately, sometimes a divorce can be so bitter that one spouse will do anything to keep the other spouse from getting any property at all. This has been taken into account in Texas divorce law, which restricts spouses from spending marital assets on anything other than basic necessities while a divorce is pending. Dissipating property for the purposes of keeping it from the other party by doing things like taking out loans not authorized by the other party, withdrawing large sums of cash, giving extravagant gifts, or taking vacations, for example, are prohibited by law in Texas. Only necessities such as mortgage payments, food, utilities, and transportation are to be paid for with marital funds during the divorce process. If this law is violated, the courts can take action to prevent further waste through a temporary restraining order and can award damages to the spouse who lost assets due to the other party’s wastefulness.
Who Gets the House?
Who gets the house in a divorce depends entirely on the circumstances of your particular case. The house may be deemed the separate property of one spouse if they made a substantial down payment or purchased the house before the marriage took place. If the house is considered separate property, the spouse who owns it keeps it. If the house is owned jointly and was purchased during the marriage, the question becomes more complicated.
During the divorce, both spouses have a right to live in the house, as it still belongs to both of them. This s rarely a comfortable situation, but some spouses are able to work it out. In other cases, one spouse may seek to exclude the other from the home through a court-ordered injunction, which orders the other spouse to leave. The injunction may be granted if the spouse seeking it can prove that the other party is abusive, takes actions that diminish the house’s value, or for other reasons.
In the division of community property at the end of the divorce, a few things can happen. The court may award the house to one spouse. This could be because other assets of equal value were given to the other, one spouse contributed more to the purchase of the home, or one spouse has custody of the children and will raise them there, for example. The court may require one party to buy out the equity of the other if they wish to retain the house, or the house can be sold and the profits split between the parties.
Why Should I Choose Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, to Handle My Divorce?
Attorney Anita K. Cutrer is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has over 20 years of experience in the field. Her practice is focused exclusively on family law in Tarrant County, Texas. By limiting herself to cases in Tarrant County, Ms. Cutrer gives her clients the advantage of her comprehensive knowledge of the local court systems, the judges, and their policies.
Attorney Anita Cutrer enjoys helping individuals and families navigate the complex legal and emotional aspects of family law and is dedicated to minimizing conflicts and maximizing benefits for all parties involved. She has a stellar track record of winning cases and helping families to resolve conflicts and come to an agreement. If you are divorcing and need assistance working out a property division agreement with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, can help.
Contact the Bedford office of Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation at (817) 813-8513.