rotect Your Assets with a Property Division Lawyer
Texas is a community property state, meaning all property accumulated by a couple over the course of their marriage is considered shared property. In a divorce, marital property is not necessarily divided equally, but according to what a judge feels is “just and right.” In other words, there may be a great deal of latitude in how property is divided. How you fare in a divorce can be greatly improved if you have an experienced lawyer representing you. Ryan Dougay is a property division lawyer based in Austin, TX, with years of proven success in securing the best outcome for his clients. Contact The Law Office of Ryan S. Dougay online or call (512) 469-0811 to schedule a consultation and learn more.
nly an experienced family law attorney can present facts and make a strong case to ensure you receive the best possible property division outcome.
Community vs. Separate Property
Making the distinction between community property and separate property is crucial since the court only considers dividing up community property. A provision in the Family Code requires the court to assume that each spouse owns an interest in all property acquired by either person while they were married, unless otherwise demonstrated. This means you must prove an asset is separate property in order for it to be awarded only to you and not deemed community property that will be divided.
Marital property is all property not regarded as separate, and typically includes:
- Each spouse’s income, regardless of disparities in earnings
- Bonuses and other earnings
- Professional practices or small businesses
- Portions of pensions or retirement plans
- Real estate, vehicles, and appliances
Alternatively, separate property can encompass:
- Property acquired through inheritance
- Property acquired as a gift
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Certain recoveries in a personal injury claim
Determining the Division of Property
In a no-fault divorce where neither party accuses the other of wrongdoing, the property is generally split 50-50. A judge may also order a division of 55-45 or 40-60 initially, or alter the allocation of assets at a later date. Certain factors can result in unequal property division:
- Disparity in Income Capacity: One party may have the potential to earn considerably more than the other due to education, employability, or other considerations.
- Custody of Children: A party that is responsible for raising a child in their custody may be awarded a greater share of marital assets.
- Fault for Marriage Failure: Texas law allows for various faults as grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abuse. If one party is found to be at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, the other party may be awarded a disproportionate percentage of the marital estate.
- Age Differences: If one partner is significantly older than the other, factors come into play regarding eligibility for retirement benefits, ability to work, and earning power, all of which can factor into property division.
- Size of Community Property: The methods for dividing property can depend on the size of the marital estate. Courts are more likely to order an equal property division of 50-50 for larger estates.
The length of the marriage, tax considerations, anticipated inheritances, and whether either party committed fraud in an attempt to conceal assets are just some of the other factors a judge may weigh. In short, marital property division is not as simple or straightforward as it may seem at first, especially in high-asset cases.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Only an experienced family law attorney can present facts and make a strong case to ensure you receive the best possible property division outcome. An attorney can also protect your assets before divorce proceedings even begin by creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These marital agreements outline which parts of the estate should be considered separate property, rather than community property, and can make the entire process go more smoothly.
Reach Out to Our Firm
If you are facing a divorce, you need a skilled attorney on your side. Reach out to The Law Office of Ryan S. Dougay online or call (512) 469-0811 to schedule a consultation and find out how we can protect your interests.