Splitting Community Property in Texas

Getting a divorce calls requires splitting community property – this means taking all of the community property you and your spouse own and dividing it up accordingly. Of course, you also each have your separate property which you will have to determine and announce separately in court. It’s the jointly-held property that can get a little complicated during the divorce. Who gets to decide regarding the division of your community property?

Making the Decision in Splitting Community Property

There are only three people who can make that decision. First, you and your spouse – if you decide to forget your ill feelings towards each other (if you have any), team up and make a rational decision about splitting community property that you own. Second, the judge in the court where you filed for divorce can make a decision in splitting community property instead of you and your spouse.
You might be surprised to know that a majority of divorce cases and community property division is often wrapped up with mediation rather than a bawl in the courtroom. Mediation is the process that you and your spouse should strongly consider if you want to settle your community property issues outside of the courtroom. You can actually deal with all the agreements that you need to sign to finalize your divorce during a mediation, in the presence of a mediator. This is a great option because you and your spouse can be in control unlike when you have to go on a trial. Mediation can help you and your spouse get what each of you really wants at the end of your marriage and it provides flexibility. Of course, there is a possibility that you will get better results with the judge – or worse.

Mediation or Trial

You might have to decide whether you’d go for a mediation or if you’d rather go for a trial. You should remember that a trial should not be your first option, but rather your last resort in case things can’t be managed through mediation. When it comes to dividing your assets and community property, a trial with a judge should be the last thing on your mind. You should be aware that there is a risk you have to subject yourself to if you were to pursue your case in court. The reason why there is a high risk involved is because judges do not have a set formula when it comes to dividing community property. There is no certain chart that a judge has to follow depending on your case. Instead, the judge will have to make a difficult decision based on the facts that are presented and his own judgment.
In court, it is also not mandatory for the judge to divide your community property at exactly 50-50. It is up to the judge’s discretion to make whatever decision he makes in the end.

How a Judge Makes a Decision

In making a decision regarding your community property, the judge can place more weight on certain factors and less weight on other factors. The judge will evaluate the factors presented in court and the corresponding evidence and will then evaluate what properties should be given to the wife and which ones should be awarded to the husband. The judge will also consider who gets primary conservatorship of the child, the income each of you earns, your age and the duration of your marriage. If one spouse cheated during the course of the marriage, which eventually led to the divorce, the judge will also take that action into consideration. Aside from that, if you have engaged in gambling activities using your community assets or have done anything that undermined your livelihood, the judge will consider that before making a decision as well. The decision of the judge will depend on how he views and reacts to the factors involved in your case. Even the most experienced attorney can only make a guess regarding the factors that the judge will consider and regarding the final outcome of your community property. If you don’t want to take this risk, you better choose mediation.

Pride and Prejudice

Usually couples who are in the middle of a divorce are not in good terms with each other, relationship and communication-wise. Most of the time, pride will be hitting a record-high on both parties, making communication difficult. Pride can also lead to making rash decisions, such as refusing to settle an issue outside of the courtroom. Both parties could feel that they have been disrespected by the other and they don’t want to leave an opening for the other party to possibly take advantage of them.
Pride can be your downfall. If you leave the decision in splitting your community property up to the judge, then there’s a possibility you’d end up being saddened by the result in the end. If you refuse to meet in the middle because of pride, it could lead to financial consequences that you’d have to live with for the rest of your life.
Hire an attorney who is experienced enough to provide you with the advice that you badly need. This may be the only way you can prevent your pride from letting you go down a path that leads to your financial downfall. A family attorney you trust can help you make the right choice regarding community property division that is in line with your best interests.

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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