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What’s the difference between community and separate property?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2020 | Property Division |

The details and legalities of divorce can be overwhelming, no doubt. But understanding how property division works in Texas can help ease the process.

You might want to leave all the legal guidance up to the judge or attorney of your case. However, knowing the basics of property division law in Texas and having thoughtful conversation with your soon-to-be-ex about your expectations can help streamline the process.

Know the difference

The first thing to note about property division in Texas, is it follows community property law. Meaning all earnings and belongings you’ve acquired through your marriage is community property rather than separate. So, your paycheck is just much yours as it is your spouse’s or your favorite art piece that you bought for the living room is also communal.

However, property is separate or belongs solely to you under these conditions:

  • You owned the property before you were married
  • You acquired the property as a gift or through someone’s will
  • You received compensation for personal injuries that weren’t meant to supplement income

Keep in mind that even separate property could be community property if it’s commingled. For example, if a family member gifts you a check and you put it into a joint bank account, it becomes community property.

List and enlist

While the judge ultimately makes the final call, you and your spouse can get together and discuss what you think a fair distribution should entail ahead of your court date. Putting together a list of all your joint and separate property, along with their values, can help create minimal surprises once your settlement goes through.

Consider the following while carrying out a financial discussion with your ex:

  • Outline what a few different property division scenarios could look like
  • Understand the conversation shouldn’t feel rushed and could lead to more meetings
  • Divorce can be emotionally tolling, but try to keep the discussion focused on finances

Having a mediator or divorce attorney guide you through property division planning can also release stress from the legal process.