When filing for divorce, dividing assets is often the most contentious part of the process for a reason. In Texas, marital property falls into two categories, so spouses must prove when and how they came into possession of particular assets. To protect your assets, ensure they are properly categorized as separate property.
Tensions may rise as your spouse argues why they should be entitled to possessions you know are yours alone. If you’re not careful, you could end up losing assets that are rightfully yours. A skilled divorce lawyer can help ensure that your assets are well-protected. The attorneys at Stepp & Sullivan are committed to supporting you in achieving your divorce-related goals.
How to Protect Your Assets When Filing for Divorce in Texas
Many people mistakenly believe that their spouse has equal ownership of their property and that they have to fight over what they want to keep for themselves. However, Texas distinguishes between property solely owned by one spouse and property that is owned by both spouses: separate property and community property.
Protecting your assets requires you understand and utilize this distinction effectively before starting the property division process.
Understand the Difference Between Community Property and Separate Property
In Texas, all property that you and your spouse held at the time of your divorce is assumed to have been jointly owned by you both, which means that you are each completely and equally responsible for the property. Additionally, Texas does not distinguish between property owned by you and your spouse, depending on whose income was used to purchase the property. Instead, income acquired during the marriage is classified as communally owned.
Married spouses have the right to separate property as well. To be considered separate property, your belongings must be obtained in one of the following ways:
- You inherited the property
- You, and you alone, received the property as a gift
- You owned the property before you got married
If any of these factors apply to a piece of property you own, it can be considered your separate property.
Write a Detailed Itemized List of All Your Separate Property
Writing a list of all your assets is a good way to take an inventory of all your possessions. As you take the time to catalog your marital property, make sure you divide your list into community property and separate property.
Remember that if the property was gifted, inherited, or owned prior to your marriage, then it is considered separate property that only you have ownership of. Add details to your list that explain exactly how and when you acquired the property.
Find Evidence to Establish That Your Asset Is Separate Property
Your asset must be proven to be a separate piece of property with clear and compelling evidence. The court cannot divide a piece of property in your divorce if it has been established that it is your separate property. Demonstrating your ownership is simple when there is an easily accessible record of when and where you bought the asset, such as if you bought a home before your marriage. Other items, meanwhile, might be more challenging to prove.
You must establish the origin of the property to prove your ownership. For gifts given during your marriage, find evidence that you didn’t already own the item before it was given to you. You can use posts from social media about it or present a friend or member of your family as a witness to attest to the fact that they purchased it and gave it to you.
For assets you’ve inherited, there should be clear documentation of their origin. Provide proof that the property passed through probate then ownership was officially transferred to you. Even if it was through a trust, there should still be a clear record of the decedent’s wishes and the transfer of the property to you.
Protect Your Assets With a Dedicated Texas Divorce Lawyer
We are naturally protective of our possessions, whether we earned them through hard work or received them as priceless gifts. Being organized and detailed when filing for divorce is essential for safeguarding your assets. However, retaining legal counsel can also be advantageous. Establishing sole ownership of an asset may be more challenging than you expect, so collaborate with a dedicated divorce lawyer.
Our goal at Stepp & Sullivan is to strive for your best interests during your divorce. With combined experience of more than 40 years, our firm can guide you through the challenging process of figuring out how to categorize each of your assets. We can listen to you carefully, taking the time to understand the position you’re in and determine the best course of action to cater to your legal needs. If you need help for your divorce in Texas or even nationally, contact our firm at (713) 336-7200 or fill out our contact form.