Managing A High Stakes Divorce In Texas

Managing a High-Stakes Divorce in Texas

Any divorce is a complicated situation.  A lot goes on, from property management to custody.  Every decision has a lot of factors behind it that all need to be analyzed.  It is time-consuming and every day that the divorce goes on, it seems like it gets more complicated.  What do you do with a high-stakes divorce?  Read on for some guidance.

Property Assignment in Texas

There are two different categories that property can be assigned to.  These are: separate property (personal property) and community property.  Which category your property gets assigned to determines whether or not it will be split during the divorce or not.

Personal Property In Texas

Personal property is any property owner or claimed by a spouse before a marriage.  The most basic way to explain it is that it is, property that can be verified to belong only to one party in a divorce.  It can also include property that was specifically gifted to one partner or another.  Inherited property is the same way.

During a divorce, personal property stays with its original owner.  That means that you don’t need to worry about whether it will be split between partners or not.  Both people in a divorce might have their own personal property.

Because personal property isn’t split, it must be documented somehow that it is separate property and not community property from the marriage.  The court requires that personal property is accompanied by clear and convincing evidence of its status.  Should there be a lack of evidence, it will be considered to be community property.

Receipts, purchase orders, protection plan documentation, and more are kinds of documentation that you can use to start a claim of personal property.  The best kind of documentation is the receipt though as it is clear and hard to argue.  Hopefully, since you bought the item a while ago the receipt is still in good condition.  Many stores will also reprint receipts.

Community Property in Texas

Unless property is proved to be otherwise, it is assumed to be community property.  That means that it is assumed to be owned by both parties.  Without assumption, property that is community property is that which was bought during the marriage or gifted to both parties.

Community property is divided between the two partners equally.  Joint bank accounts are also divided between both parties.

Property Assignment In Texas

One of the difficulties with property assignment in Texas is that it can be sent to a jury case.  That means that the assignment of property can be argued in front of a jury.  A jury might find it hard to decide whether property is community or separate.  Especially if an attorney can put up a good argument about the documentation.  This is especially true when it comes to higher value property.

Valuation of Property in Texas

Whether you are in Texas or any other state, during a divorce, a value needs to be assigned to property.  This process is called valuation of property.  For some items, valuation might be extremely easy.  For example, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and hard assets (cash, precious metals, etc) have a very defined value.

For some items, such as stocks, pensions, employment compensation, and certain investments there are standard formulas set out in family law.  These have been mostly standardized based off of general practices.

Many items will be difficult to value.  One of the most difficult things to value is real estate.  Real estate can have so many different requirements, such as partial ownership, that can change how much a person gets from the value.  Business assets bring up more complication as most judges will find it to be a bad idea for a divorced couple to remain in business together.

Just like with property assignment, property valuation can be seen in front of a jury rather than a judge.  This can make it difficult in the exact same way.  As such, the more that you and your soon-to-be former partner can agree, the easier the process will be.

Even when it comes to a mutual divorce (no fault divorce), a divorce can be messy.  A judge must agree to any agreements made by the divorcing parties.  And there is always the chance that one word could set the other party into a dispute.  Complex property division may also take a while.  The more amicable that you can be, the better the process will go, though.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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