If you and your partner have made the decision to divorce, a number of things will need to be done in order to make the split official. In Texas, this divorce process takes anywhere from a few months, with a completely uncontested divorce, to years if things get messy. Dividing assets in a divorce is one of the biggest delays to the process, and among those assets is most notably property assets.
Whether you and your spouse are on good terms or can barely stand being in the same room with each other, there are four things to keep in mind when deciding on how to divide your assets during a divorce.
1. Assets are not divided down the middle
In Texas, the division of assets in a divorce is meant to be ‘just and right’ which does not necessarily equate to a 50/50 split. Moreover, individual assets are not split down the middle during a divorce. Rather, all the assets are identified, valued and then the estate as a whole is split in a fair way. Typically speaking, this means one spouse will receive the house, if they can afford to keep it, while the other spouse will receive similarly valued assets to balance things out.
If a couple chooses to sell a house in the middle of a divorce, for whatever reason, the proceeds from the divided asset can be split down the middle.
2. It does not matter whose name is on the title or mortgage
Texas is a community property state including in a common law marriage. Even if only one partner’s name is on the title or mortgage, if the home was purchased during the marriage, the home is considered both spouses. Therefore the asset must be divided up with the rest of the marital estate. If the home was owned prior to the start of the marriage, both spouses may still be entitled unless a prenup or the like states otherwise.
3. You can sell before filing for divorce
Some couples decide to sell a home prior to initiating a divorce to help the process along. This is a great way to save time diving assets, but keep in mind this also effectively removes a large asset from the negotiation table. Even the most amicable partners may find it hard to agree on how to split assets. So instead of just splitting the proceeds, consider keeping the funds in a new joint bank account, apart from your other liquid assets, and dividing the proceeds fairly with the rest of your assets.
4. Once the petition is filed, both parties must agree to divide assets in divorce
Once divorce paperwork is filed, the court will place temporary orders barring the sale of your home without both parties consent. Similarly, the courts cannot force you to sell a home during the divorce process.
If one partner wishes to sell during divorce proceedings, the other will have to agree in order to clear title. Similarly to selling before the start of the divorce, consult your attorney on the best way to divide the proceeds fairly.
If you are in the process of divorce, you have options when it comes to dividing assets. As a couple you can choose to sell, before, during or even after the finalization of the divorce. Each option comes with its own pros and cons.
If you are considering dividing your assets during a divorce, give us a call. Our experienced team is here to unbiasedly support both parties as you navigate this challenging time.