When individuals get married, they enter a legal contract. Each party’s assets will likely mingle, and over time, most of what they own they will share with their each other. Unfortunately, joint ownership of property between married individuals can become complicated in the event of a divorce. The way a court divides property could have long-term consequences for both of the parties. It is crucial to speak to a West Lake Hills property division lawyer when you are going through a divorce because they could help you fight for your fair share.
What Property is Subject to Division?
Not all property belongs to the marriage. When individuals enter a marriage, they bring property that, in some instances, will remain theirs alone. Property that belongs to one individual alone may include assets that they owned before their marriage or an inheritance or gift acquired during the marriage.
However, individual assets can become marital property through particular actions. If one spouse has separate property, but then combines it with communal property, they cannot then later remove that individual property. For instance, if a spouse inherited money and then used those funds for a down payment on the marital home, which they continue to make payments toward throughout the marriage, the home is a mix of both separate and community property.
In some cases, the parties may have entered premarital or postnupital agreements, which could also impact whether the property belongs to one person or the marriage. If individuals did enter one of these contracts, it is important to inform their West Lake Hills attorney as this could significantly impact the court’s division of property decisions.
How Courts Divide Property in West Lake Hills
In Texas, courts are not required to divide marital property evenly. Instead, state law dictates that the division should be equitable, meaning what is fair to both parties given the circumstances. Several factors may cause an uneven yet equitable property division in a divorce case. The factors that judges may review include each party’s:
- Earning ability
- Vocational skills
- Individual assets
- Fault in the breakup of the marriage (e.g. adultery or cruel treatment)
- Liabilities and debts
The goal of the court is to make the property division fair. Suppose one party stayed out of the workforce for many years, is older, and suffering from poor health. In that case, the court may award that person a more significant share of the property than their spouse, especially if this person is still earning income and has individual assets.
Other issues may also influence a judge during this decision. For instance, if one of the parties intentionally wasted marital property in anticipation of a divorce, a judge may award less property to that person. Individuals should contact a West Lake Hills lawyer to discuss negotiating property division.
Dividing Retirement Assets
Retirement assets may also be part of the couple’s communal property. It can be challenging to divide retirement accounts and pension plans.
The parties may need to have a professional draft a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for courts to grant one spouse part of the other’s retirement or pension funds. These documents are technical and need to be drafted carefully by someone who has experience handling such assets.
If individuals have significant assets outside of the retirement or pension funds, a court may prefer to offset the value of more complex assets by granting other property to one spouse.
Hire West Lake Hills Property Division Lawyer
If you are trying to negotiate property division as part of your divorce, you should retain an attorney who understands all of the complicated factors that the court may consider. Asset division can be one of the most hotly contested aspects of many divorce cases.
A West Lake Hills property division lawyer from our firm could help you understand your rights and fight for your fair share. Speak to an attorney about negotiating asset division in your divorce case today.