Austin Complex Property Division

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Complex Property Division Lawyers in Austin

Property and debt division is frequently the most contentious aspect of divorces in Texas. The outcome of your property division case could impact your financial stability for years or even decades post-divorce, so taking it seriously is vital.

At Goranson Bain Ausley, our Austin complex property division lawyers understand the Texas property division process inside and out. Whether we’re representing you in front of a court during litigation or negotiating with your soon-to-be-ex’s counsel in Collaborative Divorce, we’ll pursue an outcome that benefits you in the short and long-term.

How Does Property Division Work in Texas?

There are two types of property in property division cases:

  1. Separate property. Separate property includes assets and liabilities that only one party owns. Property owned before the marriage is usually separate property. Gifts intended for only one spouse also often count as separate property. Additionally, contracts such as pre-marital agreements can enable spouses to stipulate certain assets and liabilities that would normally become community property instead remain separate.
  2. Community property. Community property includes assets and liabilities that both parties in a marriage own. As a rule of thumb, if both parties contribute to a piece of property in a meaningful way or rely on it, it may qualify as community property. Examples of community property include the marital home, assets and liabilities in joint bank accounts, vehicles both parties use, etc.

In the U.S., states handle property division in two ways:

  1. Equitable distribution. In equitable distribution, parties must divide community property “equitably,” but not necessarily “equally.” For example, if the spouses share children and one of them receives sole custody, that spouse may also receive the marital home to help them care for the children because that’s an “equitable” arrangement.
  2. Community property. In community property, the parties must divide community property with one another equally (or as equally as possible, given the circumstances of the case).

Texas is a community property state. That means you can expect marital property to be divided “equally” between you and your spouse during your divorce.

What constitutes an “equal” split of property varies from case to case. One of the more significant factors in your property division case is whether you decide to resolve your divorce using an out-of-court method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as Collaborative Divorce or mediation or choose to litigate your divorce in court.

If you use ADR to dissolve your marriage, you will probably find yourself negotiating with your spouse (or their legal counsel) out of court to determine a fair property division arrangement.

In contrast, if you litigate the property division process, you and your spouse will present inventories of your separate and community property to the court and then argue for what would constitute an equal division of property. The court will then make a final judgment.

What Factors Do Courts Consider During Property Division?

Courts often consider the following elements in property division cases:

  • Whether fault from either party (abuse, substance addiction, incarceration, etc.) played a role in the divorce;
  • The employability and education of both spouses;
  • Any disparity in earning power or potential between the spouses;
  • The quality of assets and liabilities involved in the property division process (courts will treat a business differently than a family pet, for example);
  • How each spouse contributed to the marriage;
  • Whether either spouse contributed to the other’s education or career, and if they expected to derive benefits from that contribution;
  • Whether any children are involved, and if so, how the custody battle was resolved or is shaping up;
  • Any other factors the court thinks is important.

As you can probably tell, property division is a complex process, and the outcome of your property division case is contingent on other elements of your divorce. For example, child support, child custody, and alimony cases can all impact the outcome of a property division case.

What Is Complex Property Division?

Complex property division deals with assets and liabilities worth a significant amount.

For example, businesses are a common subject of contention in property division cases. When a business is involved in a property division case, the court often rules that the business’s income should be divided equally among the parties. This often causes conflict if one spouse primarily owns the business and doesn’t believe business income should be counted as community property.

Additionally, if both spouses are involved in the business, the spouses may need to make choices like whether they want to continue running the business as co-owners, have one spouse buy the other out, sell the business, dissolve it entirely, or pursue a different approach.

In situations where valuable assets such as a business and real estate play a central role in the divorce, the property division process becomes significantly more complicated. The spouses will probably want to hire third parties, such as financial professionals specializing in asset valuation, to assist in the property division process.

At Goranson Bain Ausley, our Austin complex property division attorneys have the knowledge necessary to help our clients navigate even the most complicated property division cases. We’ll work tirelessly to defend your assets in and out of court.

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