Texas is a community property state. In community property states, all property owned by married parties is assumed to be the property of both people and will be divided in half upon the couple’s divorce. Parties may show that some of the property in question was acquired by only one of them before the marriage and was never mingled with the community property. A divorce party may retain full ownership of property deemed to be entirely separate property. A family law judge may determine that separate property became intermingled with community property during a marriage. A judge may also determine that there is not enough clear and convincing evidence through deeds or records that a party’s property was in fact separate. Couples who did not sign a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage may stand to lose large amounts of money if a judge determines that a particular asset must be split evenly.
Everyday people may learn a lesson from Bruce and Kris Jenner, the matriarch of the Kardashian family. The couple, who had been married for over 20 years, recently announced that they had split; the parties have amassed an empire worth an estimated $125 million.
Even when people are not rich at the time of marriage, the appreciation of an asset that was acquired before marriage may be considered community property. If one person started a business before marriage that became successful after the couple was married, the other party may be entitled to half of the appreciation.
Family law attorneys may help parties establish legally-binding prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. Although these contracts may not seem the most romantic or like a hassle at the time, they may save both parties money in future legal fees should a divorce ensue.
Source: Texas Family Code, “General Rules for Separate and Community Property”
Source: NY Daily News, “Learn from the Kardashians’ mistakes: time to brush up on prenups“, Phyllis Furman, October 14, 2013