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State laws pertaining to divorce can get complicated. Texas seems to take this one step further. You see, states are usually either community property states or equitable distribution states, with most jurisdictions following the equitable distribution model. Texas, however, is a community property model that takes equitable distribution factors into account. Let’s see if we can effectively untangle this community property and equitable distribution web that has been woven here in Texas.

Understanding the Role of Equitable Distribution in a Texas Divorce

Texas is a community property state when it comes to property division in a divorce. What this means is that those assets acquired by either spouse over the course of the marriage are considered community property that both parties own equally. Separate property is property that either spouse owned prior to the marriage. Alternatively, separate property can include property received during the marriage by one spouse as a gift, inheritance, or part of a personal injury settlement. Separate property falls outside of community property and is not subject to division in the event of divorce. Instead, it remains the sole property of the one spouse.

While Texas follows a community property model when it comes to division of the marital assets, it still divides the property in a manner that is deemed to be equitable or fair between the two spouses in the event of divorce. In other words, Texas family court judges follow community property rules, but are allowed to consider equitable distribution factors in the application of those community property rules. In fact, the Texas Family Code requires judges to take them into account, mandating “an equitable distribution of community property.”

To be clear, equitable does not mean equal. To divide things equitably means to divide them fairly. Should an uneven split of community property be merited, Texas judges are empowered to order the division as such. In determining what is equitable, judges are allowed to consider factors such as:

  • Each spouse’s level of education
  • Each spouse’s income level
  • The income gap between the spouses
  • Business or employment opportunities of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s separate property
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • The length of the marriage
  • Any need for alimony
  • Child custody arrangements for minor children of the marriage
  • Marital waste
  • Tax consequences of the divorce

Above and beyond these listed factors, judges are permitted to consider any factors they may deem relevant to deciding the overall fairness of the division of the marital assets. This means that judges have wide discretion in these matters.

Family Law Attorneys

Division of property in a divorce can have a significant impact on your post-divorce financial well-being. You can count on the team at Navarrete & Schwartz to be your advocates throughout dissolution of marriage proceedings. Reach out to our team for assistance. We are proud to serve the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.