The first questions people have regarding divorce often focus on their financial futures. This is understandable, as it can be hard to make a major change that will have an unknown impact on someone’s circumstances and financial stability.
A minority of couples have a prenuptial agreement that allows them to very quickly and efficiently divide their property if and when they decide to divorce. However, most households in Texas do not have pre-existing property division rules in place and will, therefore, need to figure out what to do with their assets and debts if divorce becomes the healthiest way forward.
Property that has financial and emotional value can lead to more contentious negotiations between spouses. For example, the home where a couple has lived together could very easily be the largest asset they share and therefore the biggest source of disagreement in their divorce.
Home equity is often treated as community property
Many married couples buy their house together after marriage. Therefore, both spouses are on the title as well as on the mortgage for the property. Typically, spouses will have to share the equity accrued during the marriage as part of their marital estate.
Community property laws require that they seek to divide their equity fairly, although not always evenly. There is no specific rule that determines who keeps the house in a divorce, but any contributions toward its value during the marriage will likely be subject to division.
Couples can reach their own agreements on the matter. If they do not agree on a property division settlement, then a Texas family law judge will consider factors including child custody arrangements and the ability of each spouse to qualify for a mortgage when they decide what will happen with the property.
Judges have the authority to assign the home to one spouse or even to order the sale of the property. Especially if someone has this very specific reason for wanting to stay in their marital home, they may need to work out a settlement with their spouse rather than leaving the outcome of property division matters to the discretion of a judge.
Proactively addressing issues concerning the property that is worth the most and could cause the biggest challenges can help to streamline the process of marital dissolution in Texas.