Separate vs. Marital Property

June 29, 2018 Posted in Divorce

If you are ending a marriage, it is important to understand what will happen to your assets. You want to protect your right to your share of property, so you should talk with Dallas divorce lawyers about how the laws apply to division of property. An attorney can help you to negotiate a fair out-of-court divorce settlement that entitles you to your fair share of marital assets or can assist you in litigating the division of assets in court so you can end up with a property division that works for you.

One of the most important things to know when it comes to division of property in Texas is that community property rules apply. This means each spouse owns a half share of all assets acquired during the course of the marriage, regardless of whether one spouse earned more money than the other and regardless of which spouse actually acquired assets.

Since each spouse is entitled to half of all marital property after a divorce, you need to know what separate property is and what marital property is when your marriage is coming to an end.

What is the Difference Between Separate Property and Martial Property?

In community property states, each spouse is entitled to half of marital property but each spouse is also allowed to keep his or her own separate property.

Separate property is money or assets that someone brings into a marriage. For example, if you come in with a $20,000 investment account before you get married, that money is separate property. If you subsequently divorce, you will not typically have to split that $20,000 with your spouse.  

However, there are circumstances where separate property becomes co-mingled with marital property and, in these cases, unless you can prove what specific property is yours, you could end up converting that separate property to marital property and it could become subject to division.  For example, if you used your $20,000 in savings and combined that money with martial funds to buy a shared family home, the separate property could essentially be converted into community property through this action.

Marital property, on the other hand, is all money and property acquired during the course of the marriage, regardless of who acquired it or who earned money to buy the assets or invest.  Almost every asset and every dollar earned is considered to belong to both spouses when it is acquired during the marriage, unless it falls into a very limited exception such as an inheritance clearly left only to one spouse and kept separate from marital assets.

Dallas divorce lawyers can provide you with help understanding whether your property is marital property or separate property and can assist you in understanding what your rights are when it comes to the division of your assets in a divorce. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible for help so you can maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a fair out-of-court divorce settlement or of getting your preferred outcome in litigation.