Our Dallas Divorce Lawyers Protect Your Property
Whether it is a new car or a new business, generally all property you acquire during marriage is community property. And when you divorce, this community property needs to be divided. We are here to help you assess what is due to you.
You might expect that, when you divorce, all marital property will be divided equally. However, depending on their case, a couple – or a court – might decide one party is due a greater or lesser portion of the property. As this can have a long-term effect on your finances, it’s important to make sure you receive everything that you have a right to.
PROVIDING SUPPORT TO TEXANS FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS
A couple that has been married and built a life together for any amount of years is likely to have acquired a mixture of different kinds of assets and debts during that time. Rarely is such property easily convertible to liquid or near-liquid form.
To the contrary, in most cases, the higher the net worth of the family, the more likely it is that holdings are tied up in things such as business ownership, real estate, trusts, investment portfolios, retirement funds, pensions and other vehicles that are difficult to value, liquidate, and divide equitably.
In instances like these, spouses can find themselves having fundamental disagreements not only over who is entitled to what, but also how to actually go about the process of dividing the various assets that they have accumulated.
Since 1987, our divorce lawyers have represented clients with complex property division issues throughout Texas. We help clients navigate their way through such areas as:
- Pension plans and retirement accounts
- Stock options and restricted stocks
- Business valuation matters
- Characterizing assets
- Marriage debt
- Real property
- Deferred compensation plans
- Intellectual property
- Treatment of trusts in divorce
- Tracing hidden or undeclared assets
- Wasting of community assets
- Reimbursement for the use of one estate to benefit another
- Adjusting community property to separate property and vice versa
When necessary, our attorneys consult with forensic accountants, business valuation experts, and other financial consultants to determine which assets are considered community property, the effect of capital appreciation and income growth of previously-held assets over the course of the marriage, and the fair market value of assets. This is an important step in the property division process because an inaccurate estimate can prove to be a costly mistake down the road. Contact GoransonBain Ausley for help when you have complex property issues.
About Property Division in Texas
Texas is considered a community property state. Property acquired before marriage or property gifted or inherited during the marriage to one spouse is the separate property of that spouse and the asset remains with that spouse. According to state law, property includes not only real estate but also other kinds of assets, including the following:
- Gifts and inheritances
- Unique items
- Boats, cars, jet skis and other recreational vehicles
- Brokerage accounts
- Financial accounts
- Intellectual property
- Family businesses
- Trust assets
- Partnership interests
- Stock in closely held corporate entities
- Retirement accounts
- Life Insurance policies
- Personal belongings
If you have a prenuptial or premarital agreement, the decision about how to divide your mutually earned assets might already be determined. If this is the case, you will need to review the document with legal counsel to determine whether the agreement is valid.
A prenuptial agreement is helpful, but the paperwork in no way exempts you from any responsibilities associated with the divorce proceedings. It is important to review the agreement as well as an updated list of your assets, taking into consideration they may have grown in value since the time your prenuptial agreement was drafted.
Marital Property Agreements
Under Texas law, spouses are granted the right to change the character of community and separate property by agreement with the use of a marital property agreement. A marital property agreement (also frequently referred to as a post-marital agreement), is an agreement that spouses can enter into at any time after marriage. To be valid, this agreement must be in writing and signed. A marital property agreement permits spouses to alter the community property system used in Texas in the following ways:
- Convert community property into separate property by partitioning and exchanging community property between the spouses — If the parties accumulated $100,000 in an account during the marriage then the $100,000 is community property and each party owns an interest in the property. At the time of a divorce, the $100,000 is subject to being divided between the spouses by the court. In a marital property agreement, the spouses can agree to divide the $100,000 so that each spouse owns $50,000 of the account as his/her separate property. In this situation, at the time of divorce, the $50,000 owned by each spouse will not be subject to being divided by the court, but rather, will be confirmed as the separate property of the spouse.
- Convert income that is derived from separate property from community property to separate property — If a spouse owned a retirement account prior to marriage then all income that flows from this account during the marriage is community property and is subject to being divided at the time of divorce. In a marital property agreement, the spouses can agree that all of the income from the separate property retirement account is also to be that spouse’s separate property. In this situation, none of the retirement account will be subject to division by the court at the time of divorce; but rather, the entire retirement account will be confirmed as the separate property of the spouse owning the account before marriage.
In summary, a well-written marital property agreement will allow you and your spouse to clarify your respective property rights and eliminate any uncertainty about those rights during your marriage, and at the same time, clearly define what will happen with some or all of your property in the event of a divorce. Call GoransonBain Ausley to learn more about whether a marital property agreement is right for your situation.
Let Our Dallas Divorce Lawyers Answer Your Property Division Questions
With over 30 years of experience supporting Austin, Dallas and Plano families with complex property divisions, GoransonBain Ausley divorce lawyers can help you assess what counts as marital property and how it should be divided. We can work with you to characterize your property so that you have a clear picture of what’s included in your marital estate.
Contact us for in-depth advice and legal support around property division and characterization.