Understanding your rights in regard to property division

On behalf of Loughmiller Higgins, Attorneys at Law posted in Divorce on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.

Once a couple has made the decision to divorce, communications between the parties can become tense or highly charged. In many cases, the spouse who is the primary earner or who has historically controlled the family’s finances will make an effort to lead the other party to believe that he or she is not entitled to certain assets. For this reason, it is imperative that Texas spouses fully understand their rights under state law when it comes to issues of property division.

One misunderstanding regarding the division of assets involves confusion over which assets are marital property and which are separate property. The differences can be confusing, since many assets that are earned solely by one party are not, in fact, theirs to retain in the event of a divorce. An excellent example lies in employment benefits earned by one spouse. In the case of stock options or bonuses, these assets are not the sole property of the individual who earned them, and are subject to the property division process during a divorce.

Separate property is strictly limited to certain definitions. For instance, inheritance money is usually regarded as separate property. The proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit may also be held as separate property, although if those funds were commingled in a joint account the matter becomes more complex. In general, the best way to determine whether assets are owned as separate or marital property is to consult with a divorce attorney.

While in the early stages of a divorce, gaining a comprehensive understanding of all assets owned by both parties is a crucial step in reaching a favorable property division outcome. While it is illegal, it is also not uncommon for spouses to hide assets during a divorce. By taking stock of all assets, regardless of type or ownership, a spouse is better prepared to argue for his or her rightful share during a Texas divorce.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband’s 401(k) And Other Assets,” Jeff Landers, Aug. 8, 2013

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