In a Texas divorce the two key battles are over child issues and property division. Texas is a community property state so we have some unique rules about property ownership during a marriage and the manner in which family courts will divide property. Most, but not all, property acquired during a marriage is community property owned jointly by the spouses and subject to a just and right division. People commonly believe community property is split 50/50 but this is not true. Community property only has to be split in a “just and right” manner. Property acquired prior to marriage is the separate property of the spouse who owned the property coming into marriage. Certain property acquired during marriage, such as inheritance, is still separate property even though it was obtained during the marriage. Separate property is not subject to division in a divorce but the spouse claiming the property is not community property must prove the property is separate property. Many people find working with a Fort Worth divorce lawyer helps protect their financial and property interests in a Tarrant County divorce.
How property is normally divided in a divorce
In almost every divorce the spouses will come to an agreement about how to divide assets without requiring a trial before a family court to let a judge or jury divide property. Not only is it usually more expensive to allow the court to divide your property but you likely will not get the assets that will be the most important to you. Judges do not want to spend their time deciding who gets the toaster or television, either.
In an uncontested divorce the spouses have already agreed to divide up the assets by themselves. Once the spouses have decided how to divide the property they will communicate the agreement to my office and I will draft the division into the divorce decree for approval by the court.
In a contested divorce there are many techniques that may be used to arrive at an agreement on property division. The spouses may reach an agreement on their own or reach a negotiated agreement through the lawyers. An agreement can also be negotiated through a collaborative law agreement. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement with or without the help of lawyers, they can enter into mediation voluntarily or by court order. Mediation uses a neutral third party to help the negotiation along in the same way as a marriage counselor. The mediator does not make any decisions for the spouses. The spouses can also agree to arbitration instead of a trial. Arbitration is a process where an arbitrator, who is a neutral third party, conducts a hearing and makes a binding decision on how to divide property. The arbitrator is not a judge and she does not conduct a trial. The spouses agree to accept whatever the arbitrator decides. Then the arbitrator’s decision is put into the divorce decree. Of course, if none of these options are successful then the only choice will be to present the case before the court and let the judge or jury decide.
How I can help you divide marital property
Although I can be a very aggressive lawyer when I need to, no amount of aggressive representation or super-secret lawyer tricks will let you take everything from your spouse and give you everything. I know people like to threaten that they will take everything from their spouse but it’s nothing more than a threat. There’s no law that allows you to take everything. There’s also no law that will allow your spouse to take everything from you. Don’t let your spouse scare you into thinking he or she will leave you homeless and broke.
My approach to negotiating property division is not to just get you as much stuff as possible. Some attorneys battle for quantity. I prefer to negotiate for quality. It’s great if you can get the house and everything in it, but if you can’t afford the mortgage payments your victory will be short lived. A short lived victory won’t make you happy. Property division should not be just about what you want but also what you need for your current and future financial security. If my time working in financial services prior to my legal career taught me anything, it’s that you cannot ignore your long term financial needs.
My main goal in negotiating property division is to make sure you walk away from your divorce with as much financial stability as possible. That’s not always an easy task but it is an important one. I will look at the financial assets, material assets and debts of the spouses to try to negotiate a settlement that balances the interests of both parties as well as making sure you get the material assets that you want or need.