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Overview of the Texas property division statute-Part I

Dallas residents may be aware that Texas is a community property state. That means that any property acquired by a couple after marriage, irrespective of whose name it is in, ispresumed to be marital property. In the event of a divorce, assets that are part of the community property estate are generally often split equally between the spouses. Additionally, Texas courts can also order a disproportionate division of the divorcing couple's estate while taking into consideration the best interest of both spouses and the children.

Texas divorce laws have provisions for certain special circumstances in addition to the provisions already mentioned. For example, if a spouse buys a residence in another state and if that property is considered community property according to the Texas laws that apply at that time, the court will order the division of that property. Similarly, any property that a spouse buys in exchange for another real or personal property may be subject to property division if that property falls under Texas jurisdiction for community property laws.

Just like community property, the same applies for separate property. That means that a spouse's property that was acquired in another state is separate property if that property is considered separate by Texas laws of the time of the purchase. The same rule applies to property that was acquired in exchange for some other property.

According to existing state laws, certain property is considered separate if the spouses have a written agreement about keeping them separate. For example, all of a spouse's earnings that the spouse acquires after January 1 of the year in which the divorce petition is filed are considered separate property. If the written agreement states that the earnings for any other specific year is also considered separate, the court will acknowledge the agreement and consider such property as separate.

When it comes to retirement benefits, employment benefits or insurance policies, the court will make a decision regarding the rights of each spouse based on the circumstances of that particular divorce case. However, Texas laws permit divorcing spouses to claim a part of the former spouse's life insurance policy. However, if an insurance policy has not matured at the time when the divorce decree is issued, the court will not interfere with it and it will let the policy mature according its own terms.

Source: Texas Family Code, "Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 7 - Award of Marital Property," Accessed on April 8, 2015

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