Most people are at least a little bit confused about the concept of “community property” which is basically property jointly owned by both spouses.
The easiest way of understanding what is community property, is to first understand what is “separate property”. In general, separate property is:
- property owned prior to marriage;
- property acquired at any time by gift or inheritance;
- recoveries for personal injuries sustained by a spouse during marriage (except for loss of earnings);
In Texas, most everything else is separate property (with some exceptions). People have some misconceptions about this, such as the idea that if only one person’s name is on the title of something (car, house, etc.), then it must be separate property. That is not the case.
There is a general presumption that all property acquired after marriage is community property, and you must PROVE that an asset was purchased solely with your own separate property for that asset to also be separate property.
On the other side of the coin, there are also some misconceptions that without a pre-nuptial agreement, ALL property becomes community property. This is also false. If the property can be clearly traced to being acquired before the marriage, purchased with completely separate property, it is NOT part of the community estate and CANNOT be awarded to the other spouse in a divorce.
This is just a brief overview, and more in depth analysis will follow as time goes on. If you have any questions please consult a lawyer, as many issues dealing with community property can be highly complex, and very expensive to make mistakes with.
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