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. Both parties must often resolve two issues 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 piece 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 both parties must answer is whether the property is indeed marital, i.e., is the property classified adequately as marital property? Marital property is subject to division under Texas divorce law, while the non-marital property is not.

Figuring this out can quickly decide some property classification issues. For example, if the couple acquired the property during the marriage, it could be classified as a marital property using marital funds. 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. This classifies the car 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). Therefore, it would not be subject to division during a divorce.

In general, separate property is:

  • Property acquired before 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 owed on the house, which currently pays with marital funds. In addition, maintenance of the home is also paid with marital funds. Moreover, the home has appreciated or depreciated during the marriage.

In the above example, many issues involve classifying the home as marital property or separate property. An experienced Frisco divorce attorney can assist you with issues such as property classification 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. He 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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