If you and your spouse are getting ready to divorce in Texas, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to divide your assets and your debts. Texas is a community property state. This means that, with few exceptions, all property and liabilities that a couple acquires during the length of their marriage are treated as jointly-owned. By contrast, any property and debts owned by one spouse or the other prior to marriage remain their separate property.
But simply because Texas family courts treat marital property as co-owned doesn’t necessarily mean that each divorcing spouse is entitled to 50% of a marital estate’s value. Texas is also an equitable distribution state. This means that spouses may be awarded an uneven distribution of their marital estate’s value as long as this distribution arrangement is fair.
Equal vs. equitable division
Because you aren’t required to split your marital property 50-50, you can take your unique circumstances into account when dividing your assets and liabilities. As long as you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce settlement, you can split your marital estate up any way that you please.
If, however, you can’t agree on how your marital estate should be divided, you’ll need to convince a judge that your division proposal is truly fair. You’ll need to gather evidence and make strong arguments about why your approach to asset division is equitable, even if it isn’t equal. For example, you could argue that you purchased your home primarily with money that you earned prior to getting married.
You’ll want to think carefully about whether the value of any of your marital debts or assets should be divided in ways that are uneven, yet fair. Approaching this issue proactively now could ultimately help to ensure that you receive a truly equitable divorce settlement later.