Property Classification Issues in a Divorce

Scales of Justice

One of the main points of contention in many divorces is the division of marital property. There are often two issues that must be resolved in any property dispute: How to classify the property (is it marital property or separate property?) and the value of the property (how much is it worth?).

This is part one of a two-blog series on the complexities of the division of marital property in a divorce. This blog will focus on property classification issues. A subsequent blog will focus on property valuation issues.

When looking at the division of marital property, the first question that must be answered is whether the property is indeed marital property, i.e., is the property properly classified as marital property? Marital property is subject to division under Texas divorce law; while the non-marital property is not.

Some property classification issues can be easily decided. If the property was acquired during the marriage, using marital funds, it can be classified as marital property. For example, you have been married 20 years; your funds are kept in a joint bank account, funded solely by money earned during the marriage. Last year, you and your spouse withdrew funds and purchased a car, that car would be properly classified as marital property.

On the other hand, if you had a property you brought into a marriage (e.g., a family heirloom), that property would be classified as separate property (non-marital property) and would not be subject to division during a divorce.

In general, separate property is:

  • Property acquired prior to marriage
  • Property acquired through gift or inheritance
  • Compensation for personal injury (not including compensation for lost wages)
  • Property acquired in exchange for one of the above

Marital property is everything else.

However, complexities arise when separate property is commingled with marital property. For example, your spouse brings a house into a marriage, but money is still owed on the house, which is currently being paid with marital funds. In addition, maintenance of the home is also paid with marital funds. Moreover, the home has appreciated or depreciated during the course of the marriage.

In the above example, there are many issues involving the classification of the home as marital property or separate property. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with issues such as the classification of property in a divorce.

Individuals throughout the DFW Metroplex contemplating divorce or who have been served with divorce papers, and have a division of property issues, including the classification of property as marital property or separate property can turn to Pfister Family Law for experienced help.

We offer accurate information and experienced advice, from a legal team of John J. Pfister Jr. and Charity K. Borserine, family law attorneys with more than 30 years of combined experience, including Mr. Pfister, who is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist (certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization). We will provide you with your options and guard your legal interests.

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