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How is marital property divided in Texas?

Splitting the property owned by a divorcing couple is an issue common to most divorce cases. A lengthy dispute over who gets what part of the marital estate can result in continued bitterness and can affect the couple's children, both in terms of health and upbringing. Judges are usually required to seek a solution that is the least harmful to the children and at the same time equitable in the distribution of marital assets to both people.

Given that work and family decisions cause people to move from one state to another, it is possible that either or both spouses may have acquired assets, such as a house, in a state other than Texas. Such property also comes under scrutiny during a property division dispute, because ignoring it can possibly enrich one person at the expense of the other.

The decision that courts need to make revolves around determining what might constitute "separate property," whether in terms of real estate or cash assets. The divorcing people needs to agree, in writing, that certain earmarked items are indeed separate property. The consideration of salaries and other earnings is, however, limited to only what may have been earned during the term of the marriage.

The decision of a court regarding property division during divorce also covers other financial instruments such as annuities, retirement plans and accounts, stock options, and insurance, with the court seeking to determine which partner has the right to these assets, unless an agreement has already been reached. No matter how well-to-do a divorcing couple may be, property division gets more complicated when the judge has to intervene and examine each and every asset and liability to identify ownership.

Source: State.TX.us, "Award of marital property," Accessed on Jan. 14, 2015

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