Often, one of the biggest points of contention in Texas divorce cases is how the property will be divided. Even though Texas is a community property state, which means the marital or community property is to be divided evenly between the spouses, property division is in practice much more complicated than that.
Part of what may be contested is what property will be deemed to be community property and what property will instead be deemed separately owned. Separate property remains the property of its owner, so it will not be subject to division. Generally, separate property is that property brought into the marriage that was already owned by that spouse. Inheritances, gifts and personal injury awards are also considered the separate property. If a premarital or marital agreement has been signed, the property excluded by agreement will also be deemed excluded from the marital estate.
Separate property can lose its excluded nature when it is commingled with marital assets, however. For example, if a person deposits proceeds from an inheritance in a joint account, the court may deem the inheritance to have become community property and thus included. Some spouses will also argue they were deceived into signing premarital agreements due to their spouse’s failing to disclose all of their assets.
Even in high-conflict cases, it is still possible for people to sometimes negotiate a property division agreement through mediation, a collaborative law process in which a trained and neutral third party helps to facilitate an agreement. People may find that choosing how they will divide their own property may be preferable to leaving the division up to the court. A person who is interested in trying to negotiate an agreement should broach the topic with their family law attorney, as he or she may be able to help.