Marital Property

Marital Property is property acquired by either spouse during a marriage. Texas community property laws govern the division of marital property in divorce proceedings. Assets that are considered “marital property” are divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50 between spouses.

Definition of Marital Property

Marital property in Texas encompasses assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is listed on the title or account.

  • Real Property: This includes the marital home, vacation homes, rental properties, land, and any improvements made to real estate during the marriage.
  • Personal Property: Personal property includes vehicles, furniture, household goods, jewelry, artwork, electronics, and other tangible items acquired during the marriage.
  • Financial Assets: Financial assets include bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit (CDs), and other investments acquired during the marriage.
  • Business Interests: If either spouse owns a business or has an ownership interest in a business acquired during the marriage, that interest is considered marital property subject to division.
  • Pensions and Benefits: Pension plans, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, employee stock options, and other retirement benefits earned by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property.
  • Debts and Liabilities: Debts and liabilities incurred by either spouse during the marriage, including mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, student loans, and other financial obligations, are also considered marital property and may be divided between the spouses.

Applicable Law: Texas Family Code Chapter 3.

Community Property Laws in Texas

Texas is a community property state. Community property laws presume that all property acquired during the marriage is community property, belonging equally to both spouses, regardless of who earned the income or whose name is on the title.

However, Texas law recognizes certain exceptions to the community property presumption. Separate property, which is property owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, is not subject to division in a divorce. Separate property remains the sole property of the spouse who owns it and is not subject to division in the divorce.

Equitable Division of Marital Property

While Texas follows community property principles, the division of marital property in a divorce does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split of assets and debts. Instead, Texas courts strive to achieve a fair and equitable division of marital property based on factors such as the following.

  • Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage may influence the division of marital property, with longer marriages generally resulting in more equal divisions of assets and debts.
  • Financial Contributions: Courts consider each spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage, including income earned, assets acquired, and financial sacrifices made for the benefit of the family.
  • Non-Financial Contributions: Non-financial contributions, such as homemaking, childcare, and support of the spouse’s career or education, are also taken into account when dividing marital property.
  • Future Financial Needs: Courts may consider the future financial needs of each spouse, including earning capacity, health, age, and ability to support themselves after the divorce.
  • Custody Arrangements: The custody arrangements for any children of the marriage may influence the division of marital property, particularly if one spouse is awarded primary custody and needs additional financial support.

Conclusion

Marital property in a Texas divorce refers to assets and debts acquired by spouses during their marriage. Texas follows community property laws, which generally result in an equitable division of marital property between spouses upon divorce. However, equitable division does not always mean an equal 50/50 split, as courts consider various factors to achieve a fair and just division of assets and debts.