Getting divorced in Texas requires settlement of a couple’s debt as part of the proceedings to legally terminate a marriage. Because Texas is a community property state, working with a divorce attorney to determine the most appropriate division of any joint debt is highly recommended. A lawyer who is experienced in divorce law can help clients understand Texas debt law in order to make the right decisions.
Dividing Debt in Texas When Divorcing
The advice of a divorce attorney is that community property states, such as Texas, have laws in place that direct how property obtained by either or both parties during a marriage is handled when divorcing. Debt incurred during the marriage by either or both spouses is generally owed equally by both partners, with a few exceptions. Debt can be unevenly distributed based on: the needs of minor children; an inequality in the financial and earning status of one spouse versus the other; and/or a determination of fault regarding the breakup of the marriage. The courts will eventually make any final determinations, if necessary.
Determining What Qualifies As Community Debt
While it may seem straightforward, it can be quite challenging to determine what qualifies as “Community” debt and how it should be divided between both spouses in a divorce. This is precisely why debt division in a community property state such as Texas is better concluded with the help of a lawyer experienced with divorce law, who can help clients reach decisions and agreements before the court decides on their behalf.
Direct and Indirect Debt
An attorney experienced in helping clients with a divorce points out another important fact concerning the division of divorce debt in Texas – determining whether the debt is direct, or indirect, to each involved party. Debt is classified as direct to whomever accrued that debt, and indirect to the other spouse. In other words, a credit card in the name of one spouse, remains the liability of that spouse. If the account was opened in both names, then both spouses are responsible for the debt. On the other hand, a divorce lawyer might advise their clients that a spouse can still be indirectly responsible for debt that was considered necessary for the support of the other spouse or children.
Tax debt remains with each individual spouse, or may be split between the couple, depending on whether taxes were filed jointly or individually. Real estate debt generally remains with the party who is the deeded owner of the property and retains ownership of the property. If property is jointly owned, it is often sold to pay off the joint debt, unless a divorce lawyer makes some other type of arrangement between their clients that is acceptable to the courts.
Settling debt during a divorce can be a stressful process. To avoid complications, and allow for the most fair division of marital debt, it is important to work with a divorce attorney who is experienced with how divorce debt is handled in Texas!
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
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