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Collin County divorce attorneyOne of the most difficult and complex issues a couple getting divorced in Texas must resolve is that of dividing marital property. For couples who have been married for a long time - especially those who enjoy a high net worth - this process can be exponentially more complicated, thanks to many years of combined finances and issues like asset commingling. 

Texas requires marital property to be divided “justly.” Leaving aside the question of what might be considered “just” by either party, dividing marital property is obviously complicated by the fact that spouses may not agree on what should be considered marital property versus personal property. After all, one spouse may contest, using their personal property to benefit the marriage may have been done out of the goodness of their heart rather than an intent to combine personal and marital property. But, the other spouse may respond, property that is used as if it were marital property is, for all intents and purposes, just that. Which spouse is right? For help answering this question in your own divorce, review these ways that personal and marital property commonly become commingled during marriage and then contact an experienced Texas divorce lawyer.

How Does Personal Property Become Commingled? 

Anything either spouse owned before getting married, as well as anything either spouse inherited or was exclusively gifted during the marriage, is considered personal property and is not subject to division during divorce. As the average age of first marriage continues to increase, people increasingly have significantly more personal property prior to getting married than in the past, whether this is the in the form of real estate ownership, liquid savings, or investment accounts. 

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Plano Prenup LawyerBusiness owners spend years working hard to build a successful enterprise from the ground up. This typically involves taking great financial risks, spending countless hours devoted to making the business successful, and many sleepless nights planning and anticipating things that could go wrong. The prospect of losing any or all of a business in a divorce can be devastating, especially if the business is the primary source of income and the prospect of a stable financial future without the business seems grim. Fortunately, a divorce does not necessarily mean that a business has to be completely divided; read this blog to get an overview of your options and then contact a Texas divorce attorney for help. 

Is Your Business Addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement? 

In a perfect world, you and your spouse would have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement addressing what will happen to your business if you get divorced. If you are just now starting a business and want to protect yourself and your spouse, create a postnuptial agreement as soon as possible. Pre- and postnuptial agreements can protect a business’s assets and debts and are a great way to eliminate uncertainty and provide both spouses with stability if a divorce does happen. While you are married, make sure you manage everything with your business legally so close scrutiny of your business practices does not expose you to any liabilities. 

Handling a Business in a Divorce

Without a prenuptial agreement, a business is handled as any other marital asset would be. It needs to be accurately valued and divided fairly. However, spouses can be flexible about their property division arrangements if one spouse is interested in keeping the business. As long as the overall property division is fair, spouses can trade assets of equivalent value in order to retain full ownership of a business. They may buy the other spouse out or even set up a payment plan to do so. Some spouses even decide to continue co-owning the business after the divorce, although this will require a general level of cooperation between spouses and airtight business contracts that determine how major decisions will be made. 

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Murphy Divorce Assets LawyerCouples getting married in Texas rarely see their marriage as a financial partnership. Yet when a couple gets married, state and federal governments do see their relationship as inherently financial in nature and many laws exist to support a couple financially during their marriage. While couples may not think much of this when they are getting tax breaks during their marriage, later on during divorce, finances can be a major point of conflict because the laws must be followed yet do not necessarily reflect a couple’s lived experience. 

Student loans are a great example of this. One spouse may have taken out enormous student loan debt for their personal education while the other spouse worked and put them through school. The spouse who earned the money during the marriage may see it as unfair that they later have to help pay for the student loan debt. Yet Texas is a community property state, which means that all marital assets and debts are seen as belonging equally to both spouses and must be split evenly during divorce. If you are considering divorce in Texas, make sure you understand the law regarding asset and debt division. Bear in mind that this blog does not constitute legal advice and that the best person to answer your questions about your divorce is a Texas divorce attorney. 

Is All of My Property Community Property in Texas? 

With few exceptions, all the property and debt a couple accumulates during their marriage is seen as community property. The exceptions are: 

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Plano Divorce Attorney for Business Owners

If you are a business owner, you may have spent years of effort and made significant financial investments to build a successful company. Your business is a valuable asset, and it may also be your primary source of income. This means that you will want to do everything you can to avoid any issues that could affect your business in a potential divorce. Understanding the ways you can protect your business will help you make sure you will be able to continue to own and operate it in the years to come.

Pre-Divorce Methods of Business Protection

Ideally, you will want to address the ownership of business interests well before divorce becomes an issue. If you own a business before getting married, you may wish to create a prenuptial agreement that will protect your business assets and ensure that you will be able to maintain ownership of the business if your marriage ends. If you start or acquire a business during your marriage, you can create a postnuptial agreement that will detail how ownership of the business will be handled if you get divorced. These agreements can help you avoid a great deal of uncertainty if divorce becomes a possibility while providing you with the reassurance that your business will remain intact, no matter what happens.

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Plano divorce attorneysAccording to most experts, the overall divorce rate in the United States is on the decline. However, the divorce rate for individuals over age 50 has doubled in the last several decades. Older individuals who divorce deal with a much different set of challenges than younger couples. Furthermore, the financial impact of divorce is often much greater for older adults than younger adults. If you are over age 50 and you are considering divorce, make sure to keep the following considerations in mind.

Property Division in a “Gray Divorce”

Divorce involving spouses nearing retirement age has been nick-named “gray divorce.” Individuals in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, have decades worth of accumulated assets. Many individuals entering into a grey divorce also own complex assets like investments, real estate, small businesses, and professional practices. Whether property division is resolved through an out-of-court agreement or litigation, assets must be accurately valued before they can be divided.

In addition to valuing assets, the identity of the property must be determined. Per Texas law, property and debt that is accumulated by either spouse during the marriage is community property. Assets acquired through inheritance or gift are exceptions to this rule. Separate property includes property that a spouse owned prior to getting married. Both spouses are entitled to a fair share of property classified as community property.

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