Getting a divorce can involve much more than signing a few legal documents. Depending on a couple’s family and financial situation, this process can be quite complex. One important area is the division of assets, something that usually means retaining the services of a divorce lawyer. In the state of Texas, seeking the help of a divorce lawyer to sort out the division of property and debt responsibility is usually necessary.
Division of Assets and Property
The marital estate – wealth, property and assets collected during the time a couple is married – is divided based on certain determining factors. The state of Texas is a community property state. Anything obtained or earned prior to the marriage is not included in the division of assets; everything acquired during the marriage such as portions of pensions, stock earnings, 401(k) earnings, and other investments or earnings is part of the joint marital property.
Property that is considered to be community property includes items such as homes, cars, jewelry, and other material possessions as well as the financial assets referenced above. A lawyer who works with divorcing couples will point out that not all property is considered to be community property, such as personal gifts, lawsuit settlements, and other things that belong to or have been given to only one party is excluded from this division.
Division of Debt
In community property states such as Texas, both parties are responsible for equal parts of the marital debt. This includes debt incurred by only one party as long as it occurred during the marriage. As explained by a divorce lawyer, this means that both parties are responsible for paying the debt based on the divorce agreement; however, if one party does not fulfill his or her share, the other could be responsible for the debt.
Negotiation and Mediation
It is common for negotiations to take place before the division of the marital estate, including debt. While the information referenced above is the general manner in which property and debt are divided in Texas, a divorce lawyer and their clients can negotiate to reach acceptable terms to be approved by the court. It is much easier if a couple has dealt with property and debt division before the divorce hearing.
It is the goal of a lawyer helping clients with a divorce to reach an amicable agreement regarding the division of assets and debts without the necessity of a trial, as court-ordered divisions may not leave either party satisfied. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial where a judge will decide the final division of property and debt.
Although some couples can work out the dispersal of debt and property on their own with little problems, it just is not always that simple. This is the most common role of a divorce lawyer – acting as a mediator to reach a final agreement. Having a settlement in place before it becomes necessary for the court to make a final decision is often much easier and more advantageous to everyone involved!
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520