Misinformation, exaggerations and half-truths dominate many conversations about divorce. People too often (intentionally and unintentionally) share stories with others that mislead them about what the process entails and what kinds of outcomes are possible. Many people conflate the laws in one state with the laws in another. They might think that what they learned during their sibling’s divorce in Louisiana, for example, would directly translate to their divorce in taxes. After all, both Louisiana and Texas have community property statues and similar rules for custody matters. However, the details of how the courts handle divorce cases differ dramatically from states to states.
Even when jurisdictions employ similar approaches, the nuance of how they handle divorce cases can be drastically different. People sometimes approach property division matters in Texas with an assumption that community property rules automatically mean a 50/50 division of their assets. Many people only discover after consulting with an attorney or going to court that their expectations do not align with reality.
Community property rules require case-by-case consideration
The Texas statute about community property division earmarks whatever people earn or acquire during a marriage as part of their marital estate. All of those assets are community property that people will need to split when they divorce. The law does mention that there is a presumption initially that a 50/50 division of assets would be the appropriate approach.
However, judges can choose to divide assets the way they believe is appropriate after learning about the circumstances of a couple’s marriage. From the health and separate property of each spouse to the duration of the marriage, there are many factors that might inspire a judge to enter a property division ruling that is far different from a 50/50 split.
Statutes matter the most during litigation. Married couples preparing for divorce in Texas can potentially choose to completely dismiss the idea of a 50/50 property division by reaching their own settlement out of court. Provided that both spouses agree on specific terms, they can choose to divide their resources and debts however they both agree is appropriate.
Individuals who learn the truth about how community property division works in Texas may find it easier to cooperate with their spouse or prepare for court, depending on their circumstances.