Houston Complex Marital Estate Attorneys
In Texas, property (and debt) that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered “community property” that is owned equally by each spouse. In a divorce, the court will attempt to divide the couple’s community property between them as equally as possible, although Texas judges are empowered to make an unequal division when it would be “just and right” to do so. This may sound simple enough, but many factors can be present that make the division of marital property one of the most difficult aspects of a Texas divorce. At the Law Office of Maria S. Lowry, our experienced Houston divorce attorney is prepared to work with you in negotiation or litigation to represent your interests in even the most complex marital estate.
Division of marital property in Texas divorce cases
The key steps in the division of marital property in a Texas divorce are to identify and characterize all property as separate property or community property, to assess its value properly, and to argue for a just and right division of the community property. According to the Texas Family Code, separate property includes property owned or claimed by a spouse before marriage; property acquired by a spouse during marriage through gift or inheritance; and any recovery for personal injury sustained during marriage, except for recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage. All other property acquired by either spouse during marriage is considered community property subject to division. Property possessed by either spouse at the time of divorce is presumed to be community property, and it is up to a spouse claiming separate property to prove that property is separate by “clear and convincing evidence,” a relatively high standard of proof in civil divorce cases.
What makes a marital estate complex?
There are many different types of property which can make the marital estate complex and more difficult to divide equally or fairly. Some examples of complex community assets include:
- The value of a business, including business valuation of goodwill and other intangible assets
- The value of employee stock options or profit-sharing plans
- Calculating the portion of a pension or investment which has accrued during marriage
- The actual income of a business owner or self-employed individual
- The appropriate income to impute to an unemployed or underemployed spouse
- Determining assets of like value to make a just and right or equal distribution
- Transmuted property
Transmutation refers to the ability of separate property to become marital or community property and vice versa. For instance, one spouse may gift separate property to the other spouse as separate property or to the marital estate as community property. A spouse may also gift his or her interest in community property to the other spouse as separate property. Additionally, proceeds from separate property, such as rent or investment income, are also considered separate property but only if maintained in a separate account and not used for household or marital purposes. A spouse wishing to keep separate property separate must take care not to commingle it with community property or take other steps that demonstrate the spouse intended the property to be considered joint marital property.
Trust Houston Divorce Lawyer Maria Lowry in the Division of Complex Marital Property
Houston family law attorney Maria Lowry is skilled at locating property, determining whether it is marital or separate, assuring it is valued accurately, and presenting a strong case for a just and right division of marital property. Regardless of the size or complexity of your estate, you will find Maria Lowry skilled and capable when working with you and your spouse to reach a fair and appropriate property settlement. When property matters are contested, we know how to prepare and present a compelling case regarding the division of complex marital estates.
For help with the division of marital property and complex marital estates in your Texas divorce, call the Law Office of Maria S. Lowry in Houston at 713-850-8859 for sound advice and effective representation to protect your interests and achieve a result that meets your needs.